Scientists discovered a new species of bacteria that can grow to the size of a human eyelash, which is thousands of times larger than other bacteria and the largest ever seen.
According to a press release accompanying the study, the thin, vermicelli-like bacteria can grow up to 1 cm (0.4 inch) in length.
This is around 5,000 times larger than most others and approximately 50 times larger than any other known bacteria.
“It would be like a human meeting another human as tall as Mount Everest,” said Jean-Marie Volland, the study’s principal author, in a press statement.
The discoveries, published in Science on Thursday, push the boundaries of what a microbe can look like.
The bacteria have grown so huge that they are no longer microorganisms, which are defined by their invisibility to the naked sight.
Other peculiarities include intricate internal structures separated by membranes, which is unusual for a bacteria.
Human and other creatures’ cells include membranes that divide their interiors into compartments, such as the nucleus, which carries DNA, or the endoplasmic reticulum, which aids in protein synthesis.
However, bacteria do not have them. Their DNA, for example, typically floats loosely within the cells and is not enclosed in a membrane.
Thiomargarita magnifica, on the other hand, possesses membranes that enclose its DNA, according to scientists. Volland named this novel structure a “pepin,” after the French word for fruit seeds.
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