There’s a brand new document holder for greatest bacterium — and also you don’t want a microscope to see it.
The newfound species, Thiomargarita magnifica, is roughly a centimeter lengthy, and its cells are surprisingly complicated, researchers report within the June 24 Science.
The bacterial behemoth is roughly the scale and form of a human eyelash, marine biologist Jean-Marie Volland of the Laboratory for Analysis in Complicated Methods in Menlo Park, Calif., mentioned June 21 at a information convention. Maxing out at roughly 2 centimeters, T. magnifica is about 50 occasions the scale of different big micro organism and about 5,000 occasions the scale of most different average-size bacterial species.
What’s extra, whereas the genetic materials of most micro organism floats freely contained in the cell, T. magnifica packs its DNA inside a sac surrounded by a membrane (SN: 6/22/17). Such a compartment is a trademark of the bigger, extra complicated cells of eukaryotes, a bunch of organisms that features crops and animals.
Examine coauthor Oliver Gros, a marine biologist on the Université des Antilles Pointe-á-Pitre in Guadeloupe, France, first found T. magnifica whereas gathering water samples in tropical marine mangrove forests within the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles. At first, he mistook the lengthy, white filaments as some type of eukaryote, Gros mentioned on the information convention. However a couple of years later, genetic analyses confirmed that the organisms had been really micro organism. A better look below the microscope revealed the cells’ DNA-containing sacs.
Earlier research had predicted that bacterial cells’ general lack of complexity meant there was a restrict to how giant micro organism may develop. However the brand new discovery is “breaking our mind-set about micro organism,” says Ferran Garcia-Pichel, a microbiologist at Arizona State College in Tempe who was not concerned with the research. With regards to micro organism, folks usually suppose small and easy. However that mindset could make researchers miss plenty of different bacterial species, Garcia-Pichel says. It’s a bit like considering the most important animal that exists is a small frog however then scientists uncover elephants.
It’s nonetheless unclear what function T. magnifica performs among the many mangroves. Additionally unknown is why it advanced to be so giant. One chance, Volland mentioned, is that being centimeters lengthy helps cells entry each oxygen and sulfide, which the micro organism must survive.