By CHRISTINA LARSON, AP Science Author
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 biggest bacterium identified so far,” mentioned Jean-Marie Volland, a marine biologist on the Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory and co-author of a paper asserting 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.
However he did not instantly realize it was a bacterium due to its surprisingly massive measurement, simply over a 3rd of an inch (0.9 centimeters) lengthy. Solely later genetic evaluation revealed the organism to be a single bacterial cell.
“It is an incredible discovery,” mentioned Petra Levin, a microbiologist at Washington College in St Louis, who was not concerned within the examine. “It opens up the query of what number of of those large micro organism are on the market — and reminds us we must always by no means, ever underestimate micro organism.”
Gros additionally discovered the bacterium hooked up 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 setting as an alternative of all through the cell.
“The acquisition of this massive central vacuole positively helps a cell to bypass bodily limitations … on how massive a cell may be,” mentioned Manuel Campos, a biologist on the French Nationwide Heart for Scientific Analysis, who was not concerned within the examine.
The researchers mentioned they are not 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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