It started when biologist and professor Ana Sofia Reboleiraov browsed Twitter. There she came across a photograph of a North American polecat (Narceus americanus), published by his American colleague Derek Hennen from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. And she saw a few small dots that caught her eye.
I saw for many years something that looked like mushrooms, but which was never found on American many years. I went to my colleagues and showed them the picture. And then we went down to the museum and started looking, she explained.
Together with her colleague Henrik Enghoff, she discovered several specimens of the same mushroom on several American many-year-olds in the museum’s huge deposit – mushrooms that have never been documented. They thus confirmed the existence of a hitherto unknown species of Laboulbeniales, which parasitically attacks insects and millipedes. The newly discovered fungus, thanks to the city of its find, received the official Latin name Troglomyces twitteri.
As far as we know, this is the first time a new species has been discovered on twitter, said Reboleira. This only underscores the importance of these platforms for communicating research and achieving new results. I hope it motivates professional and amateur scientists to share more data through social media – and now, during the coronavirus crisis, when we don’t have to go to the factory or the lab, it’s important to go, she added.