As humans, we give significance to something by giving it a unique name: whether this is our pets, our boats, our children, or our sourdough starters. It is how we distinguish the specific from the general. It is not just “a child,” it is our child, “Adrianne.” It is not “a boat”, it is the working fishing boat off the cold Maine coast, “Harvester of Sorrows.” As scientists we give names as well. We give highly specific names to species such as “Homo sapiens” and “Canis lupus” to distinguish humans and wolves, respectively. We also give sub-species names to distinguish the different forms found within a species. Think about this with canids. Wolves and dogs both belong to the same species, but are clearly very different and so the dog is Canis lupus familiaris whereas the wolf is Canis lupus lupus. Within the dog subspecies are breeds; a Chihuahuas, for example, and a Great Dane. As part of a recent research project, we have identified a number of yeasts that live inside insects. Most of these yeast have scientific names such as Hanseniasporia uvarum or Metschnikowia pulcherrima, but they don’t yet have those names that identify the strain (the breed, subspecies, varietal, or cultivar to use parallel language from other fields).

These strain names are important, as they will help us when working with people to make sure no two strains are ever confused.

It will help us as we find new uses for these strains. We have already seen the important differences between strains of the same species in how they can make new and distinctive beer flavors. Others are capable of making new breads. Still others may have roles we can’t even yet imagine.

Here we are looking for your help. Help us in this long honored tradition of naming things of importance. We have dozens of yeast to name and we want each of them to have a story. Tweet us your suggestion and an explanation of why you have chosen a particular name. If you need more than 140 characters, screen capture the text. We will decide what names make the most sense for our particular yeasts and include them in a future peer-reviewed manuscript. Forever after these yeasts will have these names. These names you helped create.

To suggest a strain name of these yeast, please tweet #NewYeastName

(feel free to cc us @AnneAMadden and @YourWild_Life)

We can’t promise how long we will accept names, but we will for at least the month of March.

Starting NOW! March 7th, 2017


Related Projects: The Sourdough Project | The Idea Brewery | Yeast Activity for the Classroom