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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Frank Zappa-Your-Zits: Pimple Bacteria Named After Rock Iconoclast

Microbiologist Andrea Campisano keeps a Frank Zappa quote on his lab computer. The screensaver text reads: "If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it." As USA Today reports, fellow researcher Omar Rota-Stabelli saw the quote while they were studying a type of bacteria that causes acne in humans but had turned up on grapevines. For a variety of non-dermatological reasons, the scientists named the bug after the late Mothers of Invention leader.
Propionibacterium acnes type Zappae was born. Rota-Stabelli described the researchers' response to their initial discovery as "Zappa-style," because instead of dismissing the grape bacteria as a mistake "we thought outside the box, worked on it, and found something very, very unexpected." There's also a parallel to Zappa's pioneering, genre-shifting appraoch — as Campisano told the Los Angeles Times, "This is the first time it's been found that a microorganism can switch from a human to a plant." Also, "Zappa" means "hoe" in Italian. The agricultural implement, you guys.
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