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UK professor honoured after new bug named after him

world Updated: Aug 28, 2015 00:31 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Bill Grant

Illustration: Abhimanyu Sinha

Bill Grant, a microbiologist at the University of Leicester, has got a new honour – a bacmetrium isolated in Japan has been named after him.

The International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology has described and named the bug, giving the name etymology as: “Halarchaeum grantii N.L.gen. masc. n. grantii, of Grant, named after the microbiologist William D. Grant for his great contribution to the study of Halobacteria.”

Grant said: “The bug in question is often described as a halobacterium because they are confined to very salty places on earth…These are considered to be relatives of the very first life forms that evolved on earth and they have genes that are the ancestors of some genes in present day higher forms of life”.

He added: “The bug in question is a member of a group found in a wide variety of commercial sea salt products, where the salt is made by evaporating down seawater in solar evaporation ponds in hot parts of the world”.

A university release said that Grant had worked on the group for almost 40 years and had authored or co-authored the last two definitive taxonomic treatments of the group.

“It is nice to become part of posterity - grantii will be in the literature for ever,” he said.

As an environmental microbiologist, Grant specialises in extreme environments in locations all around the world, and is best known for his work on East African soda lake microbiology (including their special halobacteria).

The release added that Grant also worked on halobacteria in ancient salt deposits (salt mines, including a couple in the UK) where it looks as if the halobacteria were entombed when the original salt lakes dried out millions of years ago to form the deposit and have been in suspended animation since that time.