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Scientists have discovered fascinating “compartments” of bacteria


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Bacteria – tiny and in some cases deadly single-celled organisms – are much more complex than is usually thought.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) review paper published in the high-impact journal Nature Reviews Microbiology, sheds light on organelles, the internal compartments in bacterial cells that store and maintain functions that are essential for their survival and growth.

BDI Professor Trevor Lithgow and Assoc. Prof. Chris Greening, experts in biological and physiology of bacterial cells, were invited to review the available scientific literature worldwide to consolidate the latest knowledge about organelles.

“Until recently, there was a centuries-old truth that bacteria are just a bag of enzymes, the simplest type of cell,”

; says Professor Lithgow. “New developments in nanoscale images show that the internal compartments – organelles – make them very complex.”

Cryoelectron microscopy and super-resolution microscopy have allowed scientists to study the work of bacterial organelles, which are typically 10,000 times smaller in diameter than the pinhead. BDI is leading Australia in adopting and developing the use of these technologies, said Professor Lithgow.

“It was a rewarding experience doing this scientific review and being able to demonstrate the broad nature of the work, which demonstrates the complexity of bacterial cells,” he said.

Organelles allow bacteria to do exceptional things. They aid in the photosynthesis of bacteria in low-light environments, break down toxic compounds such as rocket fuel, or even orient themselves to the Earth’s magnetic field by lining up magnetic iron particles. Some bacteria use gas collected in organelles to control buoyancy to allow them to rise or go deeper into the water, allowing optimal access to light and nutrients for growth and separation.

Research and understanding of the subtleties of bacterial cells is important not only for scientific knowledge, but also for biotechnological applications and for solving global human health problems.

“Organelles enable many bacteria to perform beneficial functions for us, from maintaining a basic function of the ecosystem to providing any kind of biotechnological advancement. But several pathogens use organelles to cause disease,” said Associate Professor Greening. “The deadly pathogen that causes tuberculosis, for example, purifies fat molecules from our own bodies and stores them as energy stores in organelles, helping the pathogen to remain in our lungs for years, compromising treatment and making drug resistance possible. . “

Countering drug-resistant infections are key issues for people in the 21st century, said Professor Lithgow. “In these times of COVID-19, the deaths we see from viral infections are horrific, but it is estimated that by 2050, at least 22,000 Australians (and 10 million people worldwide) will die each year from infections caused by drugs, resistant bacteria, “he said.

Specialized cell compartments found in bacteria

More info:
Chris Greening et al. Formation and function of bacterial organelles, Nature Reviews Microbiology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41579-020-0413-0

Provided by Monash University

Quote: Scientists exhibit fascinating “compartments” of bacteria (2020, July 30), extracted on July 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-scientists-expose-fascinating-compartments-bacteria. html

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