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The largest bacterium discovered is visible to the naked eye

If you hear the phrase “micro organism,” you most likely image organisms that could not be seen until they’re positioned underneath a microscope. A bacterium that has now been categorised as the biggest on the planet ever found, nonetheless, wants no particular instruments to be seen to the bare eye. Thiomargarita magnifica, because it’s known as, takes on a filament-like look and could be so long as a human eyelash. Because the BBC notes, that makes it larger than some extra advanced organisms, reminiscent of tiny flies, mites and worms. It was first found by marine biologist Olivier Gros dwelling on sunken mangrove tree leaves within the French Caribbean again in 2009. 

Because of the organism’s dimension, Gros first thought he was a eukaryote slightly than less complicated prokaryotic organisms like micro organism. It wasn’t till he obtained again to his laboratory that he discovered that it wasn’t the case in any respect. Years later, Jean-Marie Volland and his group on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California took a better have a look at the bacterium utilizing varied methods, reminiscent of transmission electron microscopy, to verify that it’s certainly a single-cell organism. They’ve not too long ago printed a paper describing the centimeter-long bacterium in Science.

Volland mentioned T. magnifica is “5,000 instances larger than most micro organism” and is akin to a median individual “encountering one other human as tall as Mount Everest.” One different data Volland’s group has found is that the bacterium retains its DNA organized inside a construction that has a membrane. In most micro organism, DNA supplies simply float freely of their cytoplasm. Additional, it has round 6,000 billion bases of DNA. “For comparability, a diploid human genome is roughly six giga (billion) bases in dimension. So which means that our Thiomargarita shops a number of orders of magnitude extra DNA in itself as in comparison with a human cell,” mentioned group member Tanja Woyke. 

Whereas the scientists know that T. magnifica grows on high of mangrove sediments within the Caribbean and that it creates power to reside utilizing chemosynthesis, which is analogous to photosynthesis in vegetation, there’s nonetheless rather a lot about it that is still a thriller. And it will seemingly take a while earlier than the scientists can uncover its secrets and techniques: They’ve but to determine methods to develop the organism within the lab, so Gros has to assemble samples each time they wish to run an experiment. It would not assist that the organism has an unpredictable life cycle. Gros informed The New York Times that he could not even discover any over the previous two months. 

Volland and his group now purpose to find a way to grow T. magnifica within the lab. As for Gros, he now expects different groups to go off looking for even larger micro organism, which like T. magnifica, may additionally be hiding in plain sight.

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