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A new species of flatworm from Asia that lives in our garden: Humbertium covidum

The Metropolitan France in France lists 100 new species of flora and fauna each year. Most often, these are native species and have been here for a long time, but so far they have escaped the attention of scientists. In a very different way, Currently reporting A new species found in France that has been introduced and can even invade our garden.


This species Flatworm, The size of the knuckle of the little finger. This species is elongated and wide-headed like all flatworms with hammerheads. Its color is very extraordinary, completely black, reminiscent of “liquid metal”. Its name: Humbertium covidum— I’ll come back to this name later.

How to distinguish species?

We know that flatworms have invaded French gardens for about a decade. Thus, our team reported and mapped intrusions by several species. New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari), Giant Bipaliinae (Especially Bipalium kewense) and the strange name Obama nungara invaded alone Over 70 divisions in France..Also reported recent intrusions abroad..

To give Species nameScientists must be convinced that the species is new and therefore explain how it differs from known species. In all cases, the shape and color of the organism must be accurately described. Very often, unlike other species, it is also necessary to accurately describe the genitals of the characteristic species. This is where flatworms have problems. Some species only reproduce asexually, so they simply do not have genitals. You can imagine the problem of how to distinguish them. This is why modern molecular biology techniques have been used to characterize the mitochondrial genomes of these species.

Mitochondrial genome

The Mitochondrial genomeIs abbreviated as mitogenome, the genetic code that functions mitochondria, is a small organelle of thousands, and is the driving force of energy for all cells. Because this mitochondrial genome is present in millions of copies of animals, it is technically easier and cheaper to obtain than the nuclear genome. The mitochondrial genome is circular DNA, approximately 15,000 nucleotide pairs in length. It’s long enough to provide a lot of information and short enough to be easily retrieved.

Therefore, we have obtained the mitochondrial genomes of several species of invasive flatworms. New Guinea flatworm When Bipaliinae.. These genomic characteristics were used to distinguish the species found, even without visible sexual characteristics.

New species in France

Discovered a new “Metallic Black” species Two gardens in France, both Pyrenees Atlantic, In a commune 100 kilometers away.The Pyrénées Atlantic division A small paradise for flatworms Introduced from all over the world, mainly due to the warm and always humid climate. In both cases, there were very few black species.

At the beginning of our study, we even wondered if they were a simple black variety of the larger species, Bipalium kewense, also found in these gardens.However, with a close examination of the morphology of the specimen genomeAnd when comparing these to other species, there was no doubt that the black species were different. Next, we looked in the scientific literature to see if the species was described elsewhere, especially in tropical Asia, the main origin of these Bipaliinae. We have found some reports of animals that look like it, but nothing more.

Even in Italy

Towards the end of 2019, blacks Veneto.. Hundreds of black worms, very active and very mobile early in the morning. Other reports Then it was made of this black bug near Rome.Compared Mitochondrial genome Percentage of individuals found in France and Italy: They were already present in two European countries because they are of the same species with little difference.

Therefore, it was necessary to explain the species. In other words, I had to give seeds. Latin name..

A new species of Humbertium covidum shot in Italy.

New species name

Naming the species is an essential and essential step for subsequent research.When dealing with potential Invasive speciesIt is even more important to be able to name them, as they can get the attention of legislators. Laws and statutes use Latin names to ensure that these names specify the correct species.

Latin names are binomial, with genus and species names. The genus name is “Hambatium”.The character of the animal This genus described in 2001..About the name of New species, I chose “covidum” which is the name derived from the virus “COVID”. why?First of all, this work started in 2020, and the institute Blockade of COVID pandemic regulations.. Then, as the pandemic progressed, I wanted to name the seeds to honor all the victims. And finally, “Cobidam” seemed to be the proper name for an organism that could invade the world and come from Asia. COVID-19 Pandemic itself.

Invasive species

apart from Description of this single speciesWhat does this discovery of a new species of flatworm in Europe teach us? Above all, its alien species are constantly invading our region (the same exists elsewhere in the world, and European species are invading other continents). Should we blame them and hold them accountable? Of course, these seeds have nothing to do with it.It is humanity who is responsible, especially modern phenomena Globalization, Thereby the goods circulate at a tremendous pace in all directions. Some ignorant flatworms find themselves traversing the world in a few days, perhaps in the soil of many plants. They arrive in a new environment free of natural enemies, find abundant food and multiply. In the case of the Humbertium covidum, analysis of the prey’s DNA could indicate that the species eats small snails, but it may also consume other prey.

How does the arrival of this Humbertium covidum matter?Because ground and ground-dwelling species have long been balanced with the European environment, the arrival of opportunistic predators can change this balance, and therefore. biodiversity Of our soil. Changing biodiversity involves ecological and even economic costs. For example, it can be calculated that invasive species reduce agricultural production. The cost of invasive alien species in France is enormous, Hundreds of millions of euros Per year.

Therefore, Humbertium covidum Another example of an alien species, This ultimately threatens biodiversity. Hopefully, unlike the virus that named it, it doesn’t take over the world.


Two new species of potentially invasive hammerhead flatworms from Europe and Africa


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Quote: A new species of flatworm in our garden from Asia: Humbertium covidum (February 17, 2022) from https://phys.org/news/2022-02-species-flatworm-gardens-asia-humbertium Obtained February 17, 2022 .html

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A new species of flatworm from Asia that lives in our garden: Humbertium covidum

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