Saturday, February 4, 2023

‘Microbial lion’, new branch of the tree of life

How did the complex creatures that roam the earth come to be? This is one of the great mysteries of biology. Now, a team of scientists recently discovered an entirely new branch on the tree of life, the trunk of which is made up of three large groups called domains: bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes, which then divide into animals and Divided into kingdoms like fungi. From there the branches become more and more specialized until they reach individual species.

But these microbial predators form a new branch on the eukaryotic tree. provora, These creatures swallow their prey whole or chew it into pieces. they were discovered 10 years ago in a wide range of marine habitats and are now described in new research published in the journal Nature.

Like lions, cheetahs and more familiar predators, These microbes are numerically rare but important to the ecosystem, says Patrick Keeling, professor in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and lead author of the study.

“Imagine if you were an alien and you tasted the Serengeti: you would find lots of plants and maybe a gazelle, but no lions. But lions matter, even if they are rare. These are the lions of the microbial world.”

microbial lioniStock

How did all this start?

“I noticed that some water samples had little creatures with two flagella, or tails, that were wiggling in place or swimming very fast. And so began my search for these microbes,” he says. Denis Tikhonenkov, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Inland Water Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and co-author of the paper.

Where are these ‘lions of the micro-organism world’ found?

These predators are found everywhere, in both marine and freshwater, including the coral reefs of Curaçao, the sediments of the Black and Red Seas, and the waters of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, but They are numerically rare compared to many other species. (hence the nickname microbial lions).

The researchers’ attention was drawn to strange microbes with two flagella, which allowed them to move or swim very quickly. They also had a tendency to quickly gobble up any other microbes unlucky enough to live in the same water sample.

researchers plan whole genome sequencing of these organisms, Also create 3D reconstructions of cells to learn about their molecular organization, structure and feeding habits.

Trilobites And Their Tridents

References: Denis V. Tikhonenkov, Kirill V. Mikhailov, Ryan MR Gavriluk, Artem O. Belyaev, Varsha Mathur, Sergey A. Karpov, Dmitry G. Zagumyoni, Anastasia S. Borodina, Kristina I. Prokina, Alexander P. Mylnikov, Vladimir V. Alyoshin, Patrick J. Keeling. Microbial predators form a new supergroup of eukaryotes. Nature, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05511-5

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