Episode Summary

Giant bacteria with many chromosomes in each cell carry extra genes to help them live in many different environments!

Thanks to Dr. Danny Ionescu for his contribution!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Propionibacterium virus SKKY

Jesse's takeaways

We think of bacteria a certain way: too small to see and having mostly just a single large chromosome with all the genes they need for their lifestyle and not much more. And most bacteria are like that. But not all! Giant bacteria exist, some of which can be so large that individual cells can be seen without a microscope.
Achromatium species are one such kind of bacteria. They form clumps of minerals that take up most of their internal volume, but their cells are big enough to see and handle. In order to supply all parts of their vast innards with proteins, they have many copies of their chromosome distributed throughout their cytoplasm.
In this study, a survey of Achromatium genomes from all different kinds of ecosystem revealed that even different species in very different environments all seem to share one set of genetic functions, but only use the ones they need for their particular lifestyle while archiving the rest.


Giant aquatic bacterium is a master of adaptation

Journal Paper

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Porous interior of bone