Lady GaGa has inspired botanists to name a new genus of ferns after her. The plant experts at Duke University thought the "Born This Way" singer has "fervent defense of equality and individual expression" that match characteristics of the 19 species within the genus.
Kathleen Pryer, director of Duke's herbarium and professor of biology, said, "We've been doing a lot of molecular sequencing, looking at a lot of plant material, doing a lot of field work, so we're now at the point where we're concluding some of the work, and we have enough evidence to be able to look at all the data and say, 'Hmmm, there's this group here that is really in the wrong genus. ... We need to give it a new name."
Pryer added, "So often, people give names in honor of old white guys that have worked on ferns for a long time, but we didn't want to do that. And there were so many things about these 'GaGa ferns' that we decided to name the new genus after her, to celebrate diversity." Two of the entire genus are new species and they bear a distinct DNA sequence that spells out GAGA. One of them is named GaGa Germanotta after the artist's real name and the other is GaGa Monstraoarva aka monster little.
But that's not the only reason why Pryer named the ferns after GaGa. She happened to watch the outfit worn by the singer at the 2010 Grammy Awards that has striking resemblance to a fern gametophyte. "A gametophyte is so tiny, it's the size of your smallest fingernail in nature, so I don't know if Giorgio Armani knows much about fern gametophytes," Pryer laughed, "but as a fern biologist, when I was sitting in front of the TV, and I saw her emerge, I was like, 'Good God, she's wearing a gametophyte!' It was like she was speaking to us!"