MadSci Network: Microbiology

Re: What is the largest bacterium know to science and where does it live?

Date: Fri Jan 29 11:28:58 1999
Posted By: David Beck, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Microbiology
ID: 916431792.Mi

The largest bacterium known is really neat!

There are several bacteria in the same "family" (Epulopiscium) that are really 

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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