Scientists discover bacteria with cells one centimeter long

According to new research published in the journal Science, scientists have discovered a bacterium whose cells are a centimeter long, an astonishing size that makes it the largest bacterial species ever discovered and even “challenged our understanding of bacteria” understanding of cells.” Bacteria are an extremely diverse group of organisms that have lived on Earth for billions of years, evolving to occupy a dizzying variety of ecological niches. Still, nearly all of these microbes are made of simple cells about two micrometers in diameter, about 40 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Thiomargarita magnifica, a bacterium found on the leaves of sunken mangroves on the island of Godelope in the Lesser Antilles, has upended that norm. The species has evolved filamentous cells “about 50 times larger than all other known giant bacteria” that are “visible to the naked eye.” Scientists in the project suspect that record Part of the adaptation is that T. magnifica possesses a surprising number of duplicated genes, an ability known as polyploidy. It turned out that these bacteria contained clusters of DNA in their cells, which were located in compartments that were surrounded by membranes, which the team dubbed “pepins.” These organized pepins stand in stark contrast to the free-floating DNA in most bacterial cells. Genetic sequencing revealed that T. magnifica contains hundreds of thousands of copies of the genome scattered throughout the cell, adding up to about three times the number of genes in most bacteria, an extreme example of polyploidy. “These cellular features may allow organisms to grow to unusually large sizes, bypassing some of the biophysical and bioenergetic constraints on growth,” Volland and colleagues said.

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