In a tribute to India’s missile man Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, NASA scientists have named a new organism after him. The researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have discovered a new bacteria and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour India’s former president.
Senior research scientist, Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JP, said Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran said, “The name of the bacterium is Solibacillus kalamii, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria”.
Till date, this new form of bacteria was only found on the International Space Station (ISS), and not on earth.
“I am reasonably sure it has hitch-hiked to the space station on board some cargo and then survived the hostile conditions of space,” he explained.
Naming the new microbe after President Kalam was natural to Dr. Venkateswaran and his team. “Being a fellow Tamilian, I am aware of the huge contributions by Dr. Kalam,” he said. Venkateswaran added that new bacterias are usually named after famous scientists.
He also added that this bacteria might be of some use in the field of biotechnology. “These spore formers tend to withstand high radiation and also produce some useful compounds protein wise which will be helpful for biotechnology applications,” Venkateswaran said.
His team has not characterised the bacteria fully but he hints that the new bug could be a key source for chemicals that can help protect against radiation damage.