Scientists have discovered the world’s largest bacteria, in a swamp in the Caribbean, which unlike most are not microscopic and can be seen with the naked eye, the magazine “Sciense” reported.
said Jean-Marie Foland, a marine biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of a paper in which the discovery was made.
Olivier Gros, a co-author and biologist at the University of the French West Indies and Guyana, found the first specimen of this bacterium — called Thiomargarita magnifica, or “brilliant sulfur pearl” — clinging to sunken leaves in the Guadeloupe archipelago, in the Caribbean Sea, in 2009.
The scientist did not immediately determine that this was a bacterium, given its surprisingly large size, the length of this bacterium, on average, reaches 0.9 cm.
Subsequent genetic analyzes only revealed that the organism was a single bacterial cell.
“It’s an amazing discovery,” said University of Washington microbiologist Petra Levine, who was not involved in the study. “It opens up the question of how many of these giant bacteria are out there in the world and reminds us not to underestimate bacteria.” .
Olivier Gros also found bacteria associated with oyster shells, rocks and glass bottles in the Guadeloupe swamp.
Scientists have not yet been able to grow it in the lab, but researchers say the cell It has an unusual structure for bacteria.
The primary difference is that it has a large central compartment, or vacuole (a cavity in the cell’s protoplasm), which allows some cellular functions to occur in this controlled environment, rather than throughout the cell.
“Having such a large central gap certainly helps the cell to bypass the physical limitations (…) on cell size,” said Manuel Campos, a biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the study.
The researchers also noted that they weren’t sure why the bacteria were so huge, but co-author Jean-Marie Voland hypothesized that it could be an adaptation to help them avoid being eaten by smaller organisms.
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