Wednesday, November 30, 2022

World’s largest bacteria found in Caribbean mangrove swamps that can be seen from n*ked eyes

Posted By: Anushka VatsoPublication Date: Fri, Jun 24 2022 01:04 PM IST

Have you ever thought about finding bacteria out of your n*ked eyes? While most bacteria are microscopic, scientists have actually found the largest bacteria that are roughly the size of human eyelids and can be easily seen with n*ked eyes.

The bacteria were discovered in Caribbean mangrove swamps. The bacterium, Thiomargarita magnifica, is a vermicelli-shaped organism measuring 1–5 micrometers long. This species is an average of 10,000 micrometers (four-tenths of an inch/1 cm) long, with some being twice the length of Thiomagarita magnifica.

“The thin white filament, roughly the size of a human eyelash, is the largest bacterium ever found,” said Jean-Marie Woland, a marine biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The bacterium was first discovered in 2009 by co-author and biologist Olivier Gros from the French West Indies and the University of Guyana. However, he did not immediately know that it was a bacterium due to its surprisingly large size, reaching an average length of one-third of an inch (0.9 cm).

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“In 2009, I found long white fibers attached to a sunken leaf of a mangrove tree. I found such fibers interesting. I brought them back to the lab to analyze them,” Gros said. “It’s a big surprise to me that there is such a huge bacterium living in the mangroves of Guadeloupe,” Gross said.

The single-celled organism is about 50 times larger than all other known giant bacteria and is first visible to the n*ked eye. Meanwhile, it is not the largest known single-celled organism, it follows the aquatic alga Caulerpa taxifolia, measuring 6–12 inches (15–30 cm).

Speaking about the same, Jean-Marie Woland, a marine biologist at the Joint Genome Institute of the US Department of Energy, pointed out that these two bacteria are exceptions. “Apart from two exceptions, there were no other bacteria that were known to have their DNA inside a membrane-bound organelle. In fact, a feature of the more complex cells, which is to have a membrane-bound nucleus, such as human cells, or animal and plant cells,” she said.

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“Life is fascinating, very diverse and very complex,” Woland said. “It’s important to remain curious and keep an open mind.”

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that live almost everywhere on the planet, vital to its ecosystem and most living things. Bacteria are expected to be the first organisms to live on Earth and remain fairly simple in structure billions of years later. People’s bodies are full of bacteria, of which only a small number cause diseases.

(with Reuters inputs)

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