Newly Discovered Microbe Super Small, Bizarre, Works In Copper Mine

Posted by on May 5th, 2010


Could this microbe be discovered under any less awesome conditions?

Researchers have discovered some of the tiniest and weirdest microbes ever seen growing in a copper mine sludge that is as acidic as battery acid.

Theses ultra-small microbes were first discovered four years ago, but now scientists have reconstructed their genomes (an organism’s genetic material) and found that they are among the simplest ever described for a living organism.

Named ARMAN, or archaeal Richmond Mine acidophilic nanoorganisms, as a nod to the mine’s owner, Ted Arman, these Archaea (the domain of life that groups together once-celled creatures) are rivaled in size only by a microbe that survives solely as a parasite attached to other cells. ARMAN, however, appears to exist largely as a free-living organism, but oddly, researchers discovered up to ten percent of their specimens impaled on needle-like protuberances originating from another microbe, Thermoplasmatales.

“It is really remarkable and suggests an interaction that has never been described before in nature,” said Brett J. Baker of the University of California at Berkeley.


[Live Science]

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