Research Features

FABIans Prof. Cobus Visagie, Dr Neriman Yilmaz, and their collaborators have recently described and named a newly discovered yeast species of the famous Italian painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect Leonardo da Vinci. This xerophilic species was isolated from a log house situated outside Ottawa, Canada, as part of a worldwide survey of culturable fungi occurring in house dust. It was, however, not the first time that this species had been  detected. Several previous culture-dependent and -independent surveys in many parts of the world has recorded its presence on a wide variety of substrates including indoor air, cave wall paintings, bats, mummies, and most notably in this case, the iconic self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci that was sketched with red chalk on paper ca. 1512. Those previous studies were never able to correctly identify or name the species. In their recent paper, the FABI-led team aptly named the species Blastobotrys davincii.

The paper describing B. davincii was published in the journal Yeast in a special issue named 'Fantastic Yeasts'. Other than introducing the new species, the research team also completed a nomenclatural revision for the now 37 species accepted in the Blastobotrys/Trichomonascus phylogenetic clade. Arguments were provided to adopt Blastobotrysover Trichomonascus, new combinations were made appropriate and they discuss the importance of using appropriate isolation media to culture specific fungi. This paper also includes a discussion emphasising the important role that taxonomists must play in closing the taxonomic gap that currently exists between culture dependent and culture-independent studies.

Read the full article here.