|MadSci Network: Microbiology|
The largest bacterium known is really neat! There are several bacteria in the same "family" (Epulopiscium) that are really big. One of them is called Epulopiscium fihelsoni. Most bacteria are between 0.2 um long, and 4 um long. But this bacterium can be as small as 30 um long, and bigger than 600 um long. That is well over 100 times the size of most bacteria. 600 um is the same as 0.6 mm or a little less than 1/ 32 of an inch. For bacteria that is HUGE. But I said this bacterium was really neat. It is neat because of the way it makes more bacteria. Most bacteria make more of themselves by growing until the are twice their normal size and then cutting themselves in half to make two bacteria. But Epulopiscium fishelsoni is really unusual. It makes more bacterium inside of itself until there are 5 or 6 daughter cells right in the middle of the bacterium. Then the mother cells dies and the daughter cells are released so that they can become mother cells. But that isn't the only reason that they are neat. They live in the belly of surgeonfish. Depending on the time of day they are different sizes. Why there size varies with the time of day is not known, because they wouldn't know how light it was outside when they were in the belly of the surgeonfish. Best Wishes, David Beck
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