Researchers name ferns in tribute to singer's 'defence of equality' – and because they look like one of her outfits

Lady Gaga will be immortalised in the name of a newly identified genus of fern. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have given 19 different species of fern the genus "Gaga", in recognition of the singer's "fervent defence of equality and individual expression".

By honouring Lady Gaga in this way, the academics have doubtless paved the way for a series of fern-based costumes. Indeed, study leader Kathleen Pryer said the decision was inspired by Gaga's outfit at the 2010 Grammy awards: her heart-shaped Armani Primé getup apparently recalled the bisexual reproductive stage of these ferns. It was even, Pryer observed, the appropriate shade of green.

While 17 of the ferns are simply being recategorised from the genus Cheilanthes, two are new discoveries: Gaga germanotta, found in Costa Rica, has been baptised with a reference to the musician's real name; Gaga monstraparva, from Mexico, gets its moniker from the Latin for "little monster" – Gaga's term for her fans.

"As we started to consider [naming them after Gaga], the ferns themselves gave us more reasons why it was a good choice," Pryer said. At least one species, for example, has the sequence "GAGA" among its DNA base pairs. The ferns also have "somewhat fluid definitions of gender" and can even self-fertilise to spawn a new fern.

More importantly, Pryer and her colleagues are big fans of Gaga's songs. "We often listen to her music while we do our research," She said. "We think that her second album, Born This Way, is enormously empowering, especially for disenfranchised people and communities like LGBT, ethnic groups, women – and scientists who study odd ferns!"

In September, scientists at the University of Thailand gave Lady Gaga's name to a newly identified species of parasitic wasp, Aleiodes gaga.

© Guardian News and Media 2012