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One centimeter long bacterium discovered


Here is what I want to see when I click that link: a picture. Of a bacterium. Next to a ruler. Thank you.

UPDATE: My bad, there are plenty of pictures in the supplemental materials downloadable further down the page



Here’s a GIF of the NYT video:

Image description: Filaments of a bacteria named Thiomargarita magnifica, placed next to a dime for scale. It is the largest bacteria ever observed, and each filament seen here is a single cell.


Despite having visited the US many times, I have not the slightest idea of how big a dime is (or what it is worth), so it isn't a useful indicator of scale to me and, I suspect, much of the rest of the world.


Would it kill them to put a 0.10€ coin in the picture too ?


And a banana, please.




It clearly states that each filament is one cell: a bacterium, not bacteria.


Here's a preprint from biorxiv, not sure if it's the same study, but there are plenty of pictures:


Build the software to make this possible:

The trouble is that when writers are discussing scientific research, they could be sued if they use the images in the article without permission.

There needs to be an easy way to revenue share with publishers when these copyrighted images are used. It would definitely be a win-win scenario.


I see this being downvoted, but images are copyrighted. Using an image for illustrative purposes is not fair use, is it? Therefore the articles can't just share the same images.


> Using an image for illustrative purposes is not fair use, is it?

Often it is; the paradigm would be commentary. If you're going to talk about the image, to some extent it's necessary to let people see what you're talking about. Reproducing the Mohammed cartoons ( ) in a discussion of them would obviously be fair use.

As with most aspects of the legal system, there is no standard for what is or isn't fair use.


Of course it's fair use, it meets the educational criterion.

Might you have to defend it? Maybe. Would you win? Assuredly.


Is this not precisely what fair use is about?


Still annoying... have to download them and such.


Hmm. I could swear that, when I first clicked on it, there was a picture of several of them, next to a dime. (Also, left-right reversed - you could tell by the writing on the dime.)


Did they leave in MS Word tracked changes at the end of that supplemental materials pdf? Lots of weird highlighting.




I am curious, but really not sure whether I wanna actually click on any of the links in this thread.


In San Pedro CA there's a beach called White Point Park, named for the mats of white sulfur oxidizing bacteria that grow in geothermal spring water. A Japanese family ran a bath house with the water from a geothermal spring but an earthquake damaged the flow and then being sent to internment camps ended it. I was gazing in the tide pools there when I got a whiff of sulfur, like at a hot spring, and followed my nose to a tide pool full of white fuzzy sulfur oxidizing bacteria (I think).

My pic:




The imprisonment and terrorization of thousands of innocent civilians just because of their skin color and race... please dont go along with the attempt at calling these things just "internment camps"


> The imprisonment and terrorization of thousands of innocent civilians just because of their skin color and race... please dont go along with the attempt at calling these things just "internment camps"

What do you think internment camps usually are? “Concentration camp” would be accurate, though it's problematic because the use of that as a euphemism for the Nazi extermination camps tends to get people to view it as misuse when it is used in its original and literal sense.


> Euphemism for the Nazis

Which is strange when you consider how the Brittish seemed to start that trend.


It was over a hundred thousand, about 0.1% of the US population at the time.


This is the only case I ever hear anyone use the word “internment” so to me “internment camp” is just a synonym for “the place America put Japanese people.”

And “concentration camp” similarly means “the place the Germans put Jewish people (and other groups).”

I don’t think one word is inherently more intense than the other. The difference in how I think about the two is mainly down to what happened in the camps. Both were evil places where the government imprisoned innocent people. Only the Nazis were killing everyone.


Since we are cherry-picking terms, what most people imagine when the term 'nazi concentration camp' is mentioned is actually extermination/death camp. Organized mass murders predominantly via gas chambers or shooting. Wikipedia mentions 6 of those - Chełmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz.

Concentration camps per se were just as name suggest - place to concentrate large group of undesirables, either for further sending ie to death camps, or organized hard labor of anything reich required. That horrible things happened en masse and conditions for survival were slim also here was just down to humans (at least in appearance) who ran it.


Concentration camps were used by Britain before Nazi.


went down the rabbit hole and found this: Largest single cell organism (1.6 inches)


>The entire cell contains several cytoplasmic domains with each domain having a nucleus and a few chloroplasts.

This somehow feels like a multicellular organism that didn't quite make the jump that other eukaryotes did.


Reminds me of slime molds. If I'm not mistaken, they can switch between multicellular and unicellular forms, where their separate cells merge into a single giant one, though still with multiple nuclei.


These are even bigger (20cm/8in):


If you want to go with the biggest cell, an ostrich egg is some 15cm diameter and 1-2 kgs.


AFAIK, the egg isn't a single cell. The actual embryo connected to the yolk inside is significantly smaller


What do they taste like?


An answer's here:

No taste aside from slightly salty. The texture was a turn off as well. I would compare it to eating Ulva straight from the culture tank. I suggest Red Ogo with a crisp texture and a slightly salty cucumber flavor. I also use it as the last ingredient in chevichee, before the lemon juice begins to break down the texture


Every saltwater tank owner knows the frustration of bubble algae.



This is one of those cases where the genetic material is repeated multiple times inside the same "organism". It would be considered to be a filament made up of multiple cells, except that there isn't anything separating the individual cells, so it's technically "one cell".

It's like roping together 200 boats and claiming that you've created a mile long boat. You sort of did, but it's not really the first thing people think of when they see that phrase.


But rope together 200 cars on a track and people will readily accept that it’s a mile long train.


True, but I guess for most people "a mile long train" sounds way less interesting than "a mile long car".


The equivalent claim would be a "mile long locomotive".


Are you saying that this is a multicellular bacterium? That might be even more spectacular. Although it also sounds a bit like this might be some new type of eukaryote.

Either way, it's not exactly blech.


Yeah, that Candidatus Thiomargarita magnifica is a real piece of shit.


It's a multiprocessor. The multiple available genes allow more expressiveness. Three genomes reacting to environmental changes exposes its resources 3 times as fast.

Or maybe the chromosomes are spatially optimal in a centimeter long rod.

Or maybe it's evolved to suppress the genes/proteins that would be excessive if it had 3 working copies being transcripted repeatedly.


> boat comparison

This made my day, thanks.


Really neat bacterium. Sounds like it's on the verge of becoming an eukaryote.


I guess being long and thin they don't violate the square/cube laws that normally keep bacteria from getting too big given that they have to use their outer walls rather than mitochondria to respirate. Still very impressive.


I happened to write a paper on just this issue (shameless plug)! You're right: With a sphere, the metabolic consumption grows like R^3 but nutrient capture goes like the surface area, which scales like R^2. The result is a max radius R where nutrient in can support the consumption. However, for long thin object, both the volume and area grow like L, the length. The result is that -- rather than plateauing to a finite limit -- a long thin bacterium can actually maintain exponential growth indefinitely! and that is what is actually seen in the lab.


Given that they're so thin, can they be seen by the naked eye? I'm thinking of a spider's web.


Some larger bacteria use a water sac inside to push all the living components close to the surface. So osmosis can feed them oxygen. I wonder if this one does that?


This study says that the organelles are bound to the cell membrane:


Interesting. It seems like only much larger.

(Previous coverage discussing the preprint: )


Not the only unicellular organism visible to the naked eye. For example:


An egg is a single cell.


That's a eukaryote though, whole different kettle of fish. This is bacteria, far simpler and smaller.


Aside: Searching for "Valonia ventricosa" in YouTube gives me absolutely atrocious results. A bunch of clickbait medical things and random gross-out stuff. Bleh. Anyone else?


Hum... I'm unsure and my sea spider sense is tingling. My first impression would be an egg sack like those from Opisthobranchia that could explain the DNA in pouches, or maybe a small bryozoa. If is covered in bacteria it could explain the genetic analysis.

Another possibility would be some kind of crystals growing from sulfur and covered in bacteria.

We need and electronic microscope image here and hystological cuts stained with gram.


"That turned out not to be the case. When the researchers peered inside the bacterial noodles with electron microscopes, they realized each one was its own gigantic cell. The average cell measured about 9,000 microns long, and the biggest was 20,000 microns — long enough to span the diameter of a penny."

(from NYT, )


Amazing that cell walls are strong enough to maintain integrity at that size!



The cytoplasm of those are very interesting. It has multiple partitions, and the cytoplasm is very viscous. They don't "pop" if there is damage or leak all their contents into the water. They can repair some amount of damage.


More even if the think that the structure is inside a fluid and subject to strong forces of pressure, currents and tides and bombed with sand each day. And we have a thin 1cm long cell that still somehow navigates it and don't break. It just does not feel right physically.


not to mention the cell that is a chicken egg


It is the yolk of an egg which is the single cell / ovum in birds.

And yes, if there's a larger cell than an ostrich yolk I'm not aware what it is.


Biologically, an eggshell isn't a cell wall.


ostrich egg?


Ostrich yolk technically


Human neurons can be a meter long.


Those have got glial cells to help support the parts far from the nucleus. Plus they're in a cooperative multicellar environment, not off by their lonesome.