World’s largest bacterium present in Caribbean swamp

Scientists have found the world’s largest bacterium in a Caribbean mangrove swamp. Most micro organism are microscopic — however this one is so massive it may be seen with the bare eye.

The skinny white filament, roughly the scale of a human eyelash, is “by far the most important bacterium identified to this point,” stated Jean-Marie Volland, a marine biologist on the Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory and co-author of a paper saying the invention Thursday within the journal Science.

Olivier Gros, a co-author and biologist on the College of the French West Indies and Guiana, discovered the primary instance of this bacterium — named Thiomargarita magnifica, or “magnificent sulfur pearl” — clinging to sunken mangrove leaves within the archipelago of Guadeloupe in 2009.

World Largest Bacterium
This photograph supplied by the Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory in June 2022 reveals mangroves within the Guadeloupe archipelago within the French Caribbean the place the Thiomargarita magnifica micro organism had been found. 

Pierre Yves Pascal / AP

However he did not instantly comprehend it was a bacterium due to its surprisingly massive dimension — these micro organism, on common, attain a size of a 3rd of an inch. Solely later genetic evaluation revealed the organism to be a single bacterial cell.

“It is a tremendous discovery,” stated Petra Levin, a microbiologist at Washington College in St Louis, who was not concerned within the research. “It opens up the query of what number of of those big micro organism are on the market — and reminds us we should always by no means, ever underestimate micro organism.”

World Largest Bacterium
This microscope photograph supplied by the Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory in June 2022 reveals skinny strands of Thiomargarita magnifica micro organism cells subsequent to a U.S. dime coin. 

Tomas Tyml / AP

Gros additionally discovered the bacterium connected to oyster shells, rocks and glass bottles within the swamp.

Scientists haven’t but been in a position to develop it in lab tradition, however the researchers’ say the cell has a construction that is uncommon for micro organism. One key distinction: It has a big central compartment, or vacuole, that enables some cell capabilities to occur in that managed surroundings as a substitute of all through the cell.

“The acquisition of this massive central vacuole undoubtedly helps a cell to bypass bodily limitations … on how massive a cell could be,” stated Manuel Campos, a biologist on the French Nationwide Heart for Scientific Analysis, who was not concerned within the research.

The researchers stated they don’t seem to be sure why the bacterium is so massive, however co-author Volland hypothesized it could be an adaptation to assist it keep away from being eaten by smaller organisms.

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