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Pokemon is a popular video game that has “catch ’em all” as its main principle. However, scientists have discovered a ‘new pokemon’ that is not as entertaining as the video game. The German researchers discovered the type of bacteria in amoeba, which they say is related to the potentially deadly lung parasites Legionella.

Bacteria that resembles pokeballs

In a humorous twist, the researchers named the parasite Pokemonas because the spherical amoebae resemble “pokeballs.” These are the balls you use in the video game to launch the monsters.

Legionallales bacteria have been studied for a long time by scientists due to their suspected connection to lung disease in both animals and humans. Legionnaire’s disease is one such example and is caused by Legionella pneumophila, sometimes proving fatal.

Legionella bacteria act as parasites in their hosts’ cells and multiply as intracellular parasites. They prefer living in amoebae, referring to a microorganism that shares a variable shape and crawling locomotion using pseudopods.

Picking the right group to test

Marcel Dominik Solbach from the University of Cologne, who was also the lead author for the study, explained that they wanted to screen amoebae for Legionellales and chose a group of amoebae for the research that was not closely related to the ones they had studied in the past. They settled on the amoeba group Thecofuloseam which scientists often ignore.

As was to be expected, Thecofilosea appeared to serve as hosts. In the Thecofilesea amoebae from environmental samples, the authors discovered Legionellales species, including two new genera and one unknown species from the genus Legionella.

The study also shows that the number of host organisms for Thecofilosea might be much higher than scientists initially thought.

Genome sequencing

Dr. Kenneth Dumack, the project leader, explains that the results revealed various known host organisms of these bacteria. Additionally, these findings suggest that several types of amoeba may host Legionellales. He added that to test this further, they are now sequencing the complete genome of these bacteria.