Microbe with tentacles may be the direct ancestor of all complex life on Earth: what scientists have found
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Scientists have successfully grown ancient microbes in the lab and captured detailed images.related video
The researchers believed that ancient microbes that lived on Earth even before the appearance of organisms with cells that contain a nucleus could reveal the secret of how such complex organisms appeared on the planet in the first place. Now, for the first time, scientists have grown a large number of ancient microbes in the laboratory to study their internal structure in detail, writes Live Science.
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Scientists from the University of Vienna, Austria, have grown an organism called Lokiarchaeum ossiferum, which belongs to a group of microbes called Asgardian archaea. These microorganisms received this name in honor of the habitat of the gods from the Old Norse myths. Some biologists believe that these microbes are the closest evolutionary relatives of eukaryotes, that is, organisms that have cells with a nucleus in which DNA is packaged. And these are already more complex life forms.
“In terms of evolution, Asgardian archaea seem to be either relatives or even direct ancestors of eukaryotes. Although the cells of these microbes do not have nuclei, they contain a set of genes and proteins that were once considered unique to eukaryotes. Now there are many theories who are trying to explain how the Asgardian archaea could have obtained primitive nuclei and thus produced the first complex cells that later gave rise to plants, animals and even humans,” says Jan Lewe from the Molecular Biology Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.
2 years ago, Japanese scientists grew in the laboratory an Asgardian archaeal microbe called Prometheoarchaeum syntrophicum, which was named after the ancient Greek god Prometheus. But it was not possible to understand the internal structure of the body. Now, Austrian scientists have not only grown another species of microbe, Lokiarchaeum ossiferum, but have also been able to capture detailed images of their internal structure.
“It took us 6 long years to do this, but now we have the experience to do other similar studies,” says Krista Schleper from the University of Vienna.
According to scientists, Lokiarchaeum ossiferum grows quite quickly compared to other Asgardian archaea and the number of cells doubles in about one to two weeks. Other similar microbes can grow for as long as 25 days. For comparison, the well-known bacterium Escherichia coli (this is Escherichia coli) multiplies every 20 minutes. Samples of microbes Lokiarchaeum ossiferum, which were originally collected in one of the reservoirs in Slovenia, have bizarre tentacles that come out of each cell. And each such tentacle has strange bulges along its entire length.
According to Leve, such bulges on the tentacles may support the idea that in At some point in evolution, an Asgardian archaean grabbed a nearby bacterium and sucked it into its cell body, resulting in the development of a nucleus.
“These bumps support the idea that such an interaction between ancient microorganisms could have happened” , says Leve.
Some scientists believe that the new study confirms the hypothesis that Asgardian archaea are the direct ancestors of eukaryotes, that is, more complex life, but not everyone supports this decision.
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