Clinging to submerged debris in shallow marine mangrove forests in the French Caribbean, thread-like microorganisms — perfectly visible to the naked eye — have earned the title of largest bacteria ever known.
At about an inch in length, they are the size and shape of a human eyelash, outstripping the competition by about 5,000 times the size of the garden’s diverse bacteria and 50 times the size of the bacteria that once grew into a giant. It is considered. In human terms, this is like seeing a person as tall as Mount Everest.
The prokaryotes were discovered in 2009 by Olivier Gros, a biologist at the University of the Antilles, and found them swaying gently in sulfur-rich waters among mangroves in the Guadeloupe archipelago. Gross told a news conference that the bacteria clung to the leaves, twigs and shells of oysters and bottles that sank in the tropical swamp.
He and his colleagues initially thought it might be a complex eukaryote or perhaps a group of related organisms. But years of genetic and molecular research have shown that each streak is, in fact, a towering bacterial cell, genetically related to other sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. “That, of course, was a huge surprise,” Jean-Marie Voland, a microbiologist at the Joint Genome Institute in Berkeley, California, said at the press conference.
Gross and his colleagues posted this week An article in Science explains everything they’ve learned About the massive new bacteria they named Candidatus (California) Thiomargarita Magnifica†
Their findings expand our understanding of microbial diversity in ways microbiologists never thought possible. Scientists previously hypothesized that the size of bacteria would be limited by several factors, including a lack of intracellular transport systems, a dependence on inefficient chemical diffusion, and the surface-to-volume ratio needed to meet energy needs. However, the file size California. T. Magnifica The cell is at least twice an order of magnitude higher than the expected maximum that bacteria could theoretically reach, Volland said.
Voland, Gross, and colleagues are still learning how — and exactly why —California. T. Magnifica Manages its sheer size. But so far it is clear that California. T. Magnifica It oxidizes hydrogen sulfide from its sulfur-rich environment and reduces nitrates. About 75 percent of the cell’s volume is a bag of stored nitrate. The cyst crushes against the cell envelope, limiting the depth at which nutrients and other molecules must diffuse.
Whereas bacteria usually have floating DNA, California. T. Magnifica It appears to have more than half a million copies of its genome, grouped into several membrane-bound compartments that the researchers called pipiens, after the tiny seeds inside the fruit. Spreading pepper over the outer edges of the bacteria will allow local protein production, eliminating the need to transport proteins over long distances.
The next step in studying these giant bacteria is for scientists to figure out how to grow them in laboratories. Currently, researchers collect new samples from the mangrove forests every time they run out. But this was difficult because they seem to have an ambiguous or seasonal life cycle. Gros hasn’t been able to find one for the past two months. “I don’t know where they are,” he said.