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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

World’s largest bacteria discovered in Caribbean

This Microscope Photo, Made Available By Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory In June 2022, Shows Part Of A Thiomargarita Magnifica Bacterium - The Largest Known - That Was Discovered In A French-Occupied Guadeloupe Archipelago In The Caribbean.  (Olivier Gros/University Of The West Indies Via Ap)
This Microscope Photo, Made Available By Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory In June 2022, Shows Part Of A Thiomargarita Magnifica Bacterium - The Largest Known - That Was Discovered In A French-Occupied Guadeloupe Archipelago In The Caribbean.  (Olivier Gros/University Of The West Indies Via Ap)
This Microscope Photo, Made Available By Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory In June 2022, Shows Part Of A Thiomargarita Magnifica Bacterium - The Largest Known - That Was Discovered In A French-Occupied Guadeloupe Archipelago In The Caribbean.  (Olivier Gros/University Of The West Indies Via Ap)

This microscope photo, made available by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in June 2022, shows part of a Thiomargarita magnifica bacterium – the largest known – that was discovered in a French-occupied Guadeloupe archipelago in the Caribbean. (Olivier Gros/University of the West Indies via Associated Press)

This microscope photo, made available by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in June 2022, shows part of a Thiomargarita magnifica bacterium – the largest known – that was discovered in a French-occupied Guadeloupe archipelago in the Caribbean. (Olivier Gros/University of the West Indies via Associated Press)

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Scientists have discovered the world’s largest bacteria in a mangrove swamp in the Caribbean.

Most bacteria are microscopic, but this one is large enough to be seen with the naked eye.

The thin, white filament about the length of an eyelash is “the largest bacterium ever known,” said marine biologist Jean-Marie Woland of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of a paper reporting the discovery Thursday. Journal Science.

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Co-author Olivier Gros, a biologist from the French West Indies and the University of Guyana, found the first specimens of the bacterium – called Thiomargarita magnifica, or “brilliant sulfur pearls”, adhering to the sunken leaves of a mangrove swamp in the archipelago. In 2009 Guadeloupe K.

But at the time he didn’t know it was a bacterium because of its astonishing size: these bacteria measure an average of 9 millimeters (a third of an inch). It was only after its genetic analysis that the organism was determined to be a bacterial cell.

“This is an amazing discovery,” said Petra Levin, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis who was not involved in the study. “It raises the question of how many such giant bacteria exist, and reminds us that we should never underestimate bacteria.”

Gross also found these giant bacteria attached to oyster shells, stones and glass bottles in the swamp.

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Scientists haven’t grown it in the lab yet, but researchers say bacteria have unusual cell structures. An important difference is that it has a larger central compartment, or vacuole, that allows certain cellular functions to be performed in that controlled environment, rather than the entire cell.

Manuel Campos, a biologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research who was not involved in the study, said, “Evolving this large central vacuole certainly helps the cell move around physical limits…

The researchers said they weren’t sure why the bacterium is so large, but co-author Woland speculates that it may have been an adaptation to prevent smaller organisms from eating it.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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