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Researchers at the University of Cologne name newly discovered bacteria after Pokémon

A team of researchers working under Professor Michael Bonkowski at the University of Colone's Institute of Zoology have discovered a previously undescribed bacteria in amoebae which they have dubbed "Pokemonas". As you might expect given that we're doing a write-up on it here, the name is intended as a play-on-words on Pokémon. Specifically, the name references the intracellular livestyle of the bacteria within ball-shaped Thecofilosea amoebae, likening it to Pokémon being caught and living within their Poké Balls.

These bacterium, which are related to Legionella, the order of bacteria known to cause lung diseases such as "Legionnaires' disease" in both animals and humans, live in a type of spherical amoebae known as Thecofilosea. Though it's not yet known if these specific bacteria are vectors for disease, the research team is currently working on sequencing their complete genome. It's hoped that a fuller understanding of these bacteria will help not only in understanding how Legionellales bacteria are related amongst each other, but also clarifying how these bacteria interact with their hosts. In future, this could lead to a more complete understanding of how these bacteria infect hosts, which could help in preventing outbreaks of Legionella related lung diseases.

For those interested in reading the full writeup of the researcher's results, the study has been published open-access in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.