Grapevine-Infecting Acne Bacteria Named For Frank Zappa


"sand-blasted zits" in FZ lyrics
A research group carrying out study on numerous microorganisms residing on grape plants have discovered a human acne-causing bacterium (P.acnes) which is now infecting vineyards.

“This is the first time it’s been found that a microorganism can switch from a human to a plant,” study author and self-professed Zappa fan Andrea Campisano, a microbiologist at the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy, told the Los Angeles Times.

In song "Jewish princess" Zappa sung of wanting a Jewish princess with “sand-blasted zits.” He frequently referenced germs in his lyrics since he lived close to a chemical warfare facility as a kid. Zappa argued in The Valley News on 1977: "If I wasn't doing what I am doing now, I would be a chemist,".


In addition to being a tribute to the late musician, the naming of P. acnes zappae is also a hat-tip to the Italian word for “hoe,” which is “zappa.”
Campisano is really a big fan of the experimental musician – he said he actually has a quote from him notably displayed on his lab display screen: “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 … then you deserve it.”


 The research group also investigated the evolutionary background of P. a. zappae by applying two marker genes, recA and tly. Interestingly, their outcomes showed a human source for the bacterium. Their information also indicated a lack of function of recA, a protein necessary for the repair of DNA. This indicates P. a. zappae must rely on its grapevine host for staying alive – which means P. a. zappae has adapted to a totally new intracellular environmental niche in grapevines.

Finally, they approximated the emergence of P. a. zappae to be around 7,000 years ago, an age that works with the first domestication of the grapevine and a time when the grafting and pruning of vines may have resulted in the transfer to its new host.

It’s not the first time that a critter has been named in honor of Zappa. Forty years back, a mollusk extinct for 300 million years ago was called Amaurotoma zappa; a quarter century ago, a new genus of fish was named Zappa. The Zappa name has also been bestowed upon jellyfish and spiders. Astronomers even named an asteroid 3834 Zappafrank after the  legend.
Grapevine-Infecting Acne Bacteria Named For Frank Zappa Grapevine-Infecting Acne Bacteria Named For Frank Zappa Reviewed by Klemen Hlupič on 05:06 Rating: 5

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