Thiomargarita magnifica is a species of bacteria that is found in deep-sea sediments. It is notable for its large size, with cells that can reach up to 2 cm in length. The bacteria gets its name from its ability to store large amounts of sulfur, which it uses as an energy source. Thiomargarita magnifica is thought to be one of the oldest organisms on Earth, with a fossil record that dates back over 3.5 billion years. The bacteria is found in warm, oxygen-poor environments such as Guadeloupe, where it plays an important role in the decomposition of organic matter. While Thiomargarita magnifica is not harmful to humans, it can cause problems for oil platforms and other man-made structures that it comes into contact with. The bacteria can cause corrosion and clog pipes, making it a nuisance for offshore operations. However, the unique size and longevity of Thiomargarita magnifica makes it an important part of the Earth’s history and ecosystem.
A team of scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) has discovered the world’s largest variety in the mangroves of Guadeloupe – and it puts its peers to shame. The CNRS team made the discovery while conducting a study on the impact of climate change on Caribbean island ecosystems. The team found that the diversity of mangrove species in Guadeloupe is more than twice that of any other region in the world. The study also found that the number of mangrove species in Guadeloupe has declined by more than 50% since the 1970s, due to factors such as deforestation and development. The CNRS team’s discovery underscores the need for urgent action to protect Guadeloupe’s mangroves – and other Caribbean island ecosystems – from further decline.
At up to two centimetres (three-quarters of an inch), “Thiomargarita magnifica” is not only around 5,000 times bigger than most bacteria — it boasts a more complex structure, according to a study published in the journal Science on Thursday. This so-called “giant sulphur bacterium” was discovered near hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean and lives in high concentrations of sulphur, which is toxic to most other life forms. “They basically live in a soup of sulphur,” said study co-author Louis pasteur IV of the University of Southern California. “The cells are filled with sulphur granules, and they have this really beautiful pearl-like sheen.” The bacteria get their energy by oxidising hydrogen sulphide and release sulphur as a waste product. The team used an electron microscope to take a closer look at the bacteria’s cell structure and found that it is more complex than previously thought. The cells have an outer membrane, a thick cell wall and a unique internal structure that includes an endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi bodies and mitochondria.