The Largest Bacteria Ever Discovered

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Scientists came across tiny white filaments lurking on rotting leaves sunken in the mangroves of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.These filament-like organisms, named Thiomargarita magnifica are 50 times bigger than any other known bacteria.It is large enough to easily see with the naked eye.


It was previously believed that a bacterium shouldn’t be able to grow that big because of the upper limit of their energy production.Normally,microorganisms must transfer energy across cell membranes and release this energy throughout the cell.As microbes get bigger,the ratio of volume to surface area increases and they can’t get enough energy fast.

These bacteria overcome this barrier by generating energy throughout the cytoplasm, not just the cell membrane. This allowed them to break the size record. They receive this energy from their unique environment. In mangrove forests, leaves fall into the water and slowly decompose into black mud, releasing sulfur. This is an environment that can be toxic to many organisms, including humans, but Ca. T. magnifica is burgeoning.

Scientist who found “Thiomargarita magnifica”

Biologist Olivier Gros discovered the bacteria in 2009 while studying mangrove forests in Guadeloupe while working at the University of Antilles in the French West Indies. First he thought that it could be a eukaryote and not a bacterium Returning to his laboratory in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Gross examined his discoveries under a microscope. Then he realized that he was not looking at eukaryotes but something special. In 2018, Jean-Marie Folland, a marine biologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, used a variety of methods to study bacteria. In this way, he confirmed that it was a single cell.

Size of “Thiomargarita magnifica”

Thiomargarita magnifica is very large compared to the bacterium, almost a centimetre long. More precisely, the researchers measured the length of the thread, which was 9.66 millimetres. Typically 0.4 inches (10 mm or 1 cm). It is 50 times larger than any other largest known bacteria.

largest bacteria

Thiomargarita magnica is remarkable not only for its size. In other bacteria, the genetic material is freely carried within the cell, usually in the form of only one circular chromosome. Scientists have found that T. magnifica’s genetic information is stored in hundreds of thousands of pepins. Each contains DNA and ribosomes, the molecular machine that translates the DNA instructions to create DNA and proteins. Together, pepins contain up to 700,000 copies of their genome.

Read More: Collision

Check your knowledge

A member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms which have cell walls but lack organelles and an organised nucleus, including some that can cause disease.

The largest known bacteria named “Thiomargarita magnifica” was discovered in the mangroves of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

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