Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Duke University
Nevermind the impending presidential election. The most important breaking news today: a new genus of ferns, segregated from Cheilanthes, has been named in honor of Lady Gaga! The new genus comprises 19 species, two of which (Gaga germanotta and Gaga monstraparva) are new to science. The rest were formerly in Cheilanthes, but all 19 share features that indicate they should belong to their own genus, including a DNA signature unique to the group, which consists of GAGA spelled out in base pairs. The new genus has been described by the fern group in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Duke University, led by Dr. Kathleen Pryer and graduate student Fay-Wei Li.
It may seem odd or farcical to name a plant species after Gaga, but there are great reasons to do so, which are elegantly described by Dr. Pryer: "We wanted to name this genus for Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense of equality and individual expression," and the fact that "...her second album, 'Born this Way,' is enormously empowering, especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women -- and scientists who study odd ferns!" Those sound like excellent reasons to me!
The article officially introducing the genus will appear in the forthcoming Oct-Dec issue of Systematic Botany (available by subscription only), but you can read more about the discovery in today's news:
- Nineteen species of ferns named for Lady Gaga (DukeToday.com)
- Germinated this way: New fern species named after Lady Gaga (NYTimes.com)