New acne bacteria Frank Zappa

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New acne bacterium named after Frank Zappa

Italian scientists have discovered a strain of acne bacteria in wine plants. Because of the unconventional habitat, they named the pathogen after the late American musician Frank Zappa.

Bacterium relies on wine Italian researchers have named an extremely unusual acne bacterium after the late American musician Frank Zappa. As Andrea Campisano's team reports in the journal “Molecular Biology and Evolution”, people would have infected wine plants with this skin bacteria about 7,000 years ago. The bacterium exists "in the bark and in the pulp of the vine and is dependent on the vegetable host for its survival". "Like most organisms, humans have established a long-lasting community with a variety of microbes, including pathogens and intestinal-associated bacteria," the researchers write.

Researchers ran Zappa music in the car Both the unexpected habitat and the unusual behavior of the bacterium inspired the scientists when naming the newly discovered strain. They chose the name "Propionibacterium acnes type Zappae". The musician Zappa, who died in 1993, is known for his strange compositions and sometimes controversial lyrics. The two authors of the study, Andrea Campisano and Omar Rota-Stabelli from the Fondazione Edmund Mach in S. Michele all'Adige (Italy) explained: "When we discovered the bacterium, we just heard a Zappa album in our cars." Zappa , who had Italian ancestors, sings in his satirical song "Jewish Princess" of "sand-blasted zits" (sandblasted pimples). “Zappa” is also the Italian word for hoe.

Bacteria originally comes from humans. The researchers discovered the bacteria during genetic analyzes of plant samples that they had taken at various locations in northeastern Italy. As the scientists reported, the bacteria could hide inside the cells and seem to have adapted to a completely new, intracellular niche in the wine plants. When the team then examined the evolutionary development of the bacterium, it was found that it originally came from people who probably transmitted it to the vine plants about 7000 years ago. So at a time when people started cultivating wine.

A gene to repair the genetic makeup has disappeared The scientists also discovered that a gene has disappeared from the genome of the bacterium that normally forms a protein to repair the genetic makeup. Without this protein, however, "Propionibacterium acnes type Zappae" relies on the wine plant to survive, as the researchers write. The newly discovered bacterium is an ordinary one of the skin. However, certain strains of the pathogen can be involved in the development of acne in certain cases. (ad)

Image: Sebastian Karkus /

Author and source information

Video: FRANK ZAPPA - Palais des Sports, Paris, France 11th June 1980

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