Gaga germanottaby Duke Herbarium
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ABOUT THE ART
The new fern genus Gaga includes 19 recognized species of ferns, two of which are new to science. This new species is named in honor of Lady Gaga’s family (Gaga germanotta), and the other is named in honor of her “little monsters” (Gaga monstraparva). The biology of these ferns is exceptionally obscure and blurred by sexual crossing between species (hybridization), high chromosome numbers (polyploidy), and asexuality leading to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant. Because Lady Gaga speaks to our need to understand and celebrate broad differences within the human species, we hereby provide her with a scientific namesake that characterizes the struggle to understand the intricate biology underlying cryptic patterns of diversity.
—The genus Gaga is named in honor of the American pop singer-songwriter-performer Lady Gaga, for her articulate and fervent defense of equality and individual expression in today’s society. Because Lady Gaga speaks to the need for humanity to celebrate broad differences within its own species, we hereby provide her with a scientific namesake that characterizes the struggle to understand the intricate biology underlying cryptic patterns of diversity. Because public funding supports basic research, this naming honor allows us to acknowledge the confluence between science and public interests, and to make our findings more accessible and relevant to the diversity of individuals who fund our work. The name Gaga also echoes one of the molecular synapomorphies that characterizes the
genus. At nucleotide positions 598–601 in the matK gene alignment, all Gaga species have “GAGA”, a sequence pattern not seen at this site in any other cheilanthoid fern
sampled [e.g. the closely related Aspidotis densa shows GAGG, and the type species of Cheilanthes (C. micropteris) has CAGG].