An article published in the journal “Science” reports the identification of a bacterium that can reach two centimeters in length, a size that is several thousand times larger than those of most bacteria. A team of researchers named it Thiomargarita magnifica after discovering it in the Guadeloupe archipelago in the Lesser Antilles. It took years to understand its nature because the size, gigantic for a bacterium, and some unusual characteristics for this type of organism initially suggested that it was a multicellular organism, perhaps a fungus.
An article published in the journal “Genome Biology” reports the results of tests conducted with SeqScreen, a free / open source software developed to recognize genetic sequences existing in pathogenic microorganisms. A team of researchers led by computer scientist Todd Treangen of Rice University and genomics specialist Krista Ternus of the scientific consultancy firm Signature Science, LLC developed SeqScreen to analyze the characteristics of short DNA sequences often called oligonucleotides and improve the recognition techniques of sequences present in a sample that are at least potentially dangerous.
An article published in the journal “Science Advances” reports the results of a thorough examination of a rock dated between 3.75 and 4.25 billion years offering evidence of the presence of microfossils. A team of researchers discovered in a rock found in the Nuvvuagittuq Greenstone Belt, Quebec, fossilized structures that bear similarities to microfossils from a later era and to today’s bacteria living in hydrothermal vents. This discovery offers new evidence that at the time, there were already diversified life forms after the evidence published in an article in the journal “Nature” in March 2017. In that case, the nature of the structures sparked controversy but the ones presented in the new study have greater complexity.
An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” reports the results of a study on the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis. A team of researchers developed a new gene analysis technique to estimate the origin of cyanobacteria capable of oxygenic photosynthesis. The conclusion is that all the species of these cyanobacteria existing today have a common ancestor that dates back to about 2.9 billion years ago and that the ancestors of cyanobacteria branched off from other bacteria about 3.4 billion years ago. Oxygenic photosynthesis probably evolved during that time interval.
An article published in the journal “Current Biology” reports the discovery of a cyanobacterium that was named Anthocerotibacter panamensis. A team of researchers led by Fay-Wei Li of the Boyce Thompson Institute examined this bacterium discovered on a tropical plant in Panama and found that it has very rare characteristics that make it related to the rarest group of cyanobacteria, Gloeobacteria, which diverged from the most common group, Phycobacteria, about 2 billion years ago. The new species has some characteristics in common with both groups, which offers new insights into these oxygen-producing photosynthetic bacteria.