In an unprecedented coming-out party, 100 newly discovered species are revealed to the world in a single scholarly paper coordinated by Field Museum scientists.
The 100 organisms are lichens, a type of fungi that form associations with algae and populate environments from arctic tundra to tropical rain forests. And the usual inattention bestowed upon new lichens is one reason for aggregating so many new ones in a single paper in the Feb. 18 issue of the journal Phytotaxa.
It is estimated that about 100,000 fungal species, including 17,500 lichens, have been discovered and named, but there may be a million more species waiting to be noticed by science. Lumbsch and his Field colleague Robert Lücking recruited 102 lichenologists from 37 countries to write the massive paper to help draw attention to huge shortfalls in our knowledge of the diverse life on Earth.
A massive collaboration such as the lichen project has some benefits over traditional biology that is done by individuals or small groups, Lumbsch said. Descriptions of the lichen species provided in the Phytotaxa article are more uniform than would likely be true if the 100 new species each appeared in a single article.
Deciding which characteristics of a lichen species to discuss has often been at the whim of individual biologists. Some fancied color while others were more intrigued by texture. As a result, some descriptions from decades ago are difficult to compare with modern information.
"Molecular data show that some characteristics biologists once regarded as minor really carry more importance," Lumbsch said.
The lichen collaboration is intended to demonstrate to biologists that even though they join with a large group in presenting their findings, they still receive full credit and don't lose authority over their discovery, he said.
Another benefit from the lichen collaboration is that besides being in the scholarly paper, every newly found species got its own Web site, part of the Encyclopedia of Life project fostered by the Field Museum and several other institutions. That project seeks to build a public Web source for information on all known species.
"We wanted to show these scientists how easy it is to contribute their information to the Encyclopedia of Life and how useful that is," said Lumbsch.
While biology traditionally has been more solitary, many in the field acquired an appetite for larger collaborations with the project to map the human genome more than a decade ago. Since then, such collaborations have become more common, especially in projects that seek to coordinate understanding of life on the planet, Lumbsch said.
Recruiting biologists to join the lichen collaboration wasn't difficult, he said, but "sometimes getting them to pay attention to deadlines wasn't so easy."
The project, which took about a year to complete, would have been impossible without the Internet and e-mail, Lumbsch said, but even with e-mail communications were very time-consuming.
"I would like to do it again," he said. "But first I will talk to some information specialists to learn how we might facilitate communications so my e-mail inbox doesn't keep overflowing!"
Nancy O'Shea | EurekAlert!
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology