Canadian rock legends Rush inspire names for new termite-dwelling microbes

VANCOUVER — What do a trio of Canadian rock icons have in common with microbes living in the guts of termites?

Researchers at the University of British Columbia say the tiny organisms have long, hair-like flagella and bob about like the members of the prog-rock band Rush.

Now, three new species of microbe have been named after the band’s members; singer Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart.

The findings, and the new names, have been published in the online journal Scientific Reports.

Microbiologist Patrick Keeling is the senior author of the paper and he says a number of Rush lyrics have also been hidden in the writing, “just for fun.”

Keeling says the scientists hope naming the organisms after a beloved band gets more people interested in science.

“Science is supported by society, so we like to tell them what we’re doing and get them excited about science,” he says. “And so far the response to this has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Among those taking notice of the scientific novelty are the band members.

Rush

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