The world of microbiology just got a whole lot more interesting. Researchers found the world’s largest bacteria in the dense mangrove forest of the Caribbean.
The bacteria named Thiomargarita magnifica appears as a thin white filament is measured to be at 1cm in length which is roughly the size and shape of an eyelash.
Thiomargarita magnifica is estimated to be 5000 times larger than the previously known big bacteria to claim its title as the world’s largest bacteria.
This giant bacteria was discovered by Olivier Gros, a researcher and a marine biology professor at the Universite des Antillean in Guadeloupe in 2009.
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When Prf. Gros was out in the mangroves of France he unexpectedly stumbled across these white filament-like structures wriggling on the surface of decaying mangrove leaves.
Looking unusual, these specimens were taken back to the laboratory for further studies.
After years of detailed examinations of these wriggling white filaments, the scientists confirmed that these were sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes. The research report on the world’s biggest bacteria was published in Science.
“When I saw them, I thought it was just something curious, some white filaments that needed to be attached to something in the sediment like a leaf,” said Prf. Gros.
The 16S rRNA gene sequencing for the identification of this specimen was done by Prof. Silvina Gonzalez – Rizzo from the Universite des Antilles, who was also the co-author of the published report.
During the study, the team of scientists from LRC, Berkeley Lab, FGI, and Universite des Antilles explained the details of the genomic features of this largest bacteria.
This bacteria had its DNA kept organized in a membrane, unlike most other bacteria where the DNA is left to freely float in their cytoplasm.
Scientists believe that there could be other undiscovered bacteria out there that are much bigger than this.