Science has published a study on a newly discovered bacterium that is large enough to be seen with the naked eye. It resembles an eyelash in shape and size.
Microbiologists found it in Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles.
The Latin name for the new bacterium is Thiomargarita magnifica. Its dimensions reach 9000 micrometers, which is almost 1 centimeter in length. Typically, cells of most bacterial species are about 2 micrometers long, although larger ones can be as long as 750 micrometers.
According to study co-author Jean-Marie Folland, a marine biologist and scientist at the California Complex Systems Research Laboratory and a member of the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute USAthis bacterium can grow up to 2 centimeters in length.
“To understand how huge it is for a bacterium is the same as if we found a person the size of Mount Everest,” the scientist told CNN.
More than 625,000 E. coli bacteria can fit on the surface of a single T. magnifica. (Escherichia coli).
However, despite its size, the bacterium has a “particularly pristine” surface, devoid of bacteria that live on the surface of plants and living animals, according to the study.
It was previously thought that bacteria could not grow to a size visible to the naked eye due to the way they interact with their environment and produce energy.
But T. magnifica has an extensive network of membranes that can produce energy, so it doesn’t rely solely on its surface to absorb nutrients.
The DNA of a T. magnifica cell is contained in small membrane-bound organelles called pepins.
Unlike most bacteria, whose genetic material floats freely within their single cell, the DNA of a T. magnifica cell is contained in small membrane-bound sacs called pepins.
“This was a very interesting discovery that raises many new questions because it is not something that is commonly seen in bacteria. In fact, this is a characteristic of more complex cells, like those that make up the bodies of animals or plants, ”Wolland said.
“We want to understand what these pepins are and what exactly they do, and whether they play a role, for example, in the evolution of gigantism of these bacteria,” the scientist concluded.