The world’s largest bacteria discovered in the Caribbean mangrove swamp

A giant bacterium 50 times larger than any bacterial species previously known to science has been discovered in a Caribbean mangrove swamp, a discovery that will spur new scientific ideas about the size and structure of living cells.

The filaments, which look like fine capillaries and have individual cells up to 1 cm in length, are called filaments Thiomargarita magnifica. The discovery was led by researchers From Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and the University of the Antilles in Guadeloupe.

T Magnifica Says Jean-Marie Voland, lead author of a paper describing New bacteria in the journal Science.

“It’s 5,000 times larger than most bacteria,” Foland said. “To put it in context, it would be like meeting another human the length of Mount Everest . . . This is our first opportunity to manipulate individual bacteria with tweezers.”

everybody T Magnifica The samples have so far been free of infection by the smaller microbes. Genetic analysis indicates that the species synthesizes a range of antimicrobial compounds, which may be a useful source for them Antibiotics In the future.

Bacteria are by far the most numerous and diverse form of life on Earth. The total number of bacterial species is unknown, and the vast majority of them have yet to be scientifically described. Almost all of them are visible only through microscopes.

Olivier Gros, Professor of Marine Biology at Guadeloupe, was originally seen T Magnifica As white threads grow from submerged leaves in a sulfurous mangrove swamp. Genetic analysis in his lab has revealed its identity as a giant new species within the well-known bacterial genus Thiomargarita.

T magnifica bacteria appear next to a single coin. Almost all other bacterial species can only be seen through microscopes © Tomas Tyml

“I didn’t think it was a bacteria because it was so big,” said Silvina Gonzalez Rizzo, a molecular biologist at the University of the Antilles.

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T Magnifica Sulfides are used in water as an energy source. With this metabolism, bacteria cannot infect humans or other animals.

The size of conventional bacteria is limited by the need for all the chemical compounds necessary for life to travel efficiently and quickly within their cells. T Magnifica He overcame this limitation by developing an internal structure that replicates many biochemical functions within a single cellular filament.

Researchers are still in the early stages of investigation T Magnifica. Working on how to grow bacteria in the lab will be an important step forward. The same applies to the discovery of other giant bacteria that grow in different conditions. “Discovery T Magnifica The scientific paper suggests that even larger, more complex bacteria may be hiding in plain sight.

Petra Levine, a professor of microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the research, called the discovery astonishing. “Bacteria are endlessly adaptable and always amazing — and they should never be underestimated,” she said.

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