Marine biologist Jean-Marie Voland, co-author of the research paper that announced the discovery, Thursday, in the journal “Science”, said that the thin white threads, which are about the size of the eyelash of the human eye, are “the largest bacteria known to date,” according to the agency. Associated Press.
And bacteria are the oldest forms of life on Earth, and most of them are microscopic in size, but the newly discovered bacteria are so large that they can be seen with the naked eye.
The new bacterium, called Theomargarita magnifica, which means “brilliant sulfur pearl”, was discovered in shallow mangrove swamps in the Caribbean, according to “Reuters”.
The strange thing about these bacteria is not only their large size (up to 2 centimeters in length, which is a huge number for microorganisms), but also their internal structure is different from any other bacteria.
The DNA does not move as freely within the cell of this species as in most bacteria, but is contained within many small sacs attached to the cell membrane. The structures attached to the cell membranes in cells are called organelles.
It’s “thousands of times larger than normal-sized bacteria,” said Foland. “Discovering this bacteria is like encountering a human being the length of Mount Everest.”
The length of ordinary bacteria ranges from one micrometer to 5 micrometers, while the average length of “Theomargarita magnifica” is 10,000 micrometers (1 centimeter), with some types reaching twice that length.
Co-author Olivier Gross, a biologist at the University of the West Indies and French Guiana, found the first example of this bacteria clinging to sunken mangrove leaves in the Guadeloupe archipelago in 2009.
But he didn’t immediately realize it was a bacterium because of its surprisingly large size. Only later genetic analysis revealed that the organism was a single bacterial cell.
Gross also found bacteria associated with oyster shells, rocks and glass bottles in the swamp.
Scientists have not yet been able to grow the new bacteria in a lab culture, but the researchers say the cell has a structure unusual for bacteria.
One major difference from them is that they contain a large central chamber, or vacuole, that allows some cell functions to occur in that controlled environment rather than throughout the cell.
“Having such a large central gap certainly helps the cell to bypass the physical limitations … regarding cell size,” said Manuel Campos, a biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the study.