About one centimeter long, it is 5,000 times larger than the vast majority of bacteria.
GUADELOUPE – Defies the laws of biology hitherto considered a dogma, the giant bacterium visible to the naked eye, one centimeter long, discovered in the mangrove swamps in the Caribbean, in the Guadeloupe archipelago.
Called Thiomargarita magnifica, not only is it 5,000 times larger than most bacteria, it also has a complex internal structure, which has likely allowed it to bypass the common physical and energetic limitations encountered by its relatives.
The discovery, published in the journal Science, is due to research led by the American Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and suggests that this may be only the first of a group of giant bacteria yet to be discovered.
Researchers led by Jean-Marie Volland have discovered that the DNA of Thiomargarita magnifica, instead of being free inside the single cell as is typical of bacteria, is enclosed within structures composed of several active membranes from the point of metabolic view: this is a much higher level of organization, which can be found in much more complex cells.
According to the authors of the study, the combination of these extraordinary characteristics may have allowed the bacterium to reach its extraordinary size.