Microbiologist honoured with bug named after him

Microbiologist Bill Grant (pictured), Emeritus Professor in the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation has a new honour to add alongside his career accolades - he has a bug named after him.

His name will be preserved for posterity after the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology printed this month naming a bacterium isolated in Japan, Halarchaeum grantii, after the Leicester scientist for his great contribution to the study of Halobacteria.

Professor Grant said: “The bug in question is often described as a 'halobacterium' because they are confined to very salty places on earth, although, technically they are not bacteria but a completely genetically different line resembling bacteria called archaea that mostly inhabit extreme environments like very salty lakes and hot springs.

“These are considered to be relatives of the very first life forms that evolved on earth and they have genes that are the ancestors of some genes in present day higher forms of life.

“I have worked on the group for almost 40 years and amongst many other things have authored or co-authored the last two definitive taxonomic treatments of the group. It is nice to become part of posterity - grantii  will be in the literature for ever.”

As an environmental microbiologist, Professor Grant specialises in extreme environments in locations all around the world from Inner Mongolia to various African sites. He is best known for his work on East African soda lake microbiology (including their special halobacteria) but also halobacteria in ancient salt deposits (salt mines, including a couple in the UK) where it looks as if the halobacteria were entombed when the original salt lakes dried out millions of years ago to form the deposit and have been in suspended animation since that time.