Newly-Discovered Bacteria Is The Size Of A Human Eyelash!

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Thiomargarita magnifica filaments next to a US 10-cent coin (Credit: Tomas Tyml/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Bacteria can be found almost everywhere on Earth, from the bottom of the ocean to the inside of our intestines. However, the single-celled organisms typically measure a few micrometers and can only be seen through a microscope. Now, researchers have identified a thin, thread-like bacteria species that grows up to 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) long. Named Thiomargarita magnifica, it is the largest bacteria found to date.

"It's 5,000 times bigger than most bacteria. To put it into context, it would be like a human encountering another human as tall as Mount Everest," said study leader Dr. Jean-Marie Volland of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Olivier Gros first stumbled upon the massive bacterium in a red mangrove swamp on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in 2009. The University of the French Antilles marine biologist says, "I spend a lot of time in the water looking at different things in the mangrove sediments. One time I saw these long white filaments, so I just collected them out of curiosity."

A close-up image of the T. magnifica bacterium (Credit: Jean-Marie Volland)

Gros initially believed he had found a new eukaryote species. Unlike bacteria, eukaryotes comprise complex cells containing a nucleus and organelles. However, a closer look at the thread-like specimens revealed he might have found something unique. The scientist suspected the microbe belonged to the same family as the previous largest-known bacteria — the 750-micrometer long Thiomargarita namibiensis (T. namibiensis),or "Sulfur Pearl of Namibia." However, his theory remained unconfirmed until recently, when Dr. Volland and his team decided to conduct more in-depth research.

The scientists found that there is more to the T. magnifica, than its large size. The bacteria, which obtains its energy by oxidizing sulfur, is far more complex than any other previously found species. In other bacteria, DNA floats freely within each cell. But in the T. magnifica the genetic information is stored in hundreds of thousands of tiny little packets known as pepins. Many larger bacteria species carry multiple copies of their genomes. However, the T. magnifica takes it to a new level with 700,000 copies of DNA in its single cell!

Size comparisons of various giant bacteria, including T. magnifica (Credit: Jean-Marie Volland)

The T. magnifica's reproduction method is also unlike any other seen before. Most bacteria reproduce by dividing into two identical cells. However, the slender T. magnifica breaks off a piece of itself at the tip. That segment then separates to become a new member of the species.

Dr. Volland and his team published their findings in the journal Science on June 23, 2022. They plan on conducting further research to determine if mangroves are essential to the bacterium's survival. The researchers also want to further analyze the genetic material inside the bacteria's pepins.



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  • brooklynj
    brooklynjabout 1 year
    Wow! I mean I love bugs but.... I mean if nothing happens then cool float ur boat! But like don't put me in danger I rather live yk? But this is kinda cool but also scary! But imma just mind my business like I'll go my way u go urs! Ty very much mate now imma go live! ANYWHO HAVE A GREAT DAY Y'ALL BAI!
    • m-dog1003
      m-dog1003about 1 year
      That is crazy cool, and an automatic A+, if you know what I mean.
      • itznikkidaangel
        itznikkidaangelabout 1 year
        • byjenyreloke
          byjenyrelokeabout 1 year
          I really hope that it can't control people's minds.
        • iheartart4ever
          • techfashion0315
            techfashion0315about 1 year
            Hi y'all! It's good to be back! Cool article! <3
          • luna_1234
            luna_1234about 1 year
            Omg!! That is scary! Anything like that or spiders or bugs scare me to death! LOL Please like and follow me! Also here is my comment question( comment on my comment answering the question) What are you most scared of roaches or palmetto bugs?
            • luna_1234
              luna_1234about 1 year
              I personally am more scared of palmetto bugs( the one that sort of look like roaches but they fly and make a loud noise)
          • bloxburgboy
            bloxburgboyabout 1 year
            whoa. i have never discovered those kind of new bacteria. in fact I should have to see it. that sounds super, duper cool.
            • sassycat10
              sassycat10about 1 year
              • summer_beach
                summer_beachabout 1 year
                Those are huge! (I had to read this for history)