A group of researchers from the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) has recently discovered a new species of parasite — fish parasitic isopod which they have named after their teacher, Dr Mohamed Hatha, as a homage to his contribution to science.
The new species, Norileca Hathai, was discovered in the Indian Ocean by Dr Hatha’s students and researchers Nashad M, Dr Aneesh PP, Prof Bijukumar A, and Dr K Bineesh. Dr Hatha is currently the head of the department of Marine Biology, CUSAT, and has been involved in the study of microbial pathogens for over 25 years.
The findings of the new species discovery have been published in the recent edition of the leading international journal Marine Biodiversity Records, reported a leading news daily. Detailing the features of the organism, Nashad said that Norileca Hathai have a pale tan body with large dark stripes posteriorly and can grow up to 12 to 15 mm in size. It attaches to the host using its pointed appendages called pereopods and feeds on fish blood but without killing the host.
Nashad claimed that more than fifty species of parasitic isopods occur in Indian waters, infesting various groups of fishes like mackerel, sardines, barracudas, and silver bellies.
Speaking about Dr Hatha’s contribution, researcher Aneesh said that the professor has been studying microbial pathogens, especially antibiotic-resistant organisms, their mode of survival, and their spread in different locations for over two and half decades. He had also visited the North Pole as part of his research on microbial communities in these remote polar regions. Dr Hatha’s first visit to the poles was in 2009 as the leader of the Indian Arctic expedition team.
Dr Hatha is also a recipient of the coveted Fulbright Scholarship of the US government and has been appointed as the Country Ambassador of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). This same group of researchers had previously named another discovered species after their research guide Dr Bijukumar as a mark of respect.