19 February 2015

Giant E. coli

Microbiologists have grown giant bacteria

Alexander Khramov, Infox.ruScientists have learned how to grow giant bacteria that are hundreds of times larger than normal microorganisms in size, Infox reports.

Giant E. coli will facilitate laboratory research.

This is reported in an article by Canadian microbiologists from the University of Montreal, published in the Journal of Bacteriology (Z.W. El-Hajj and E.B. Newman, An Escherichia coli mutant that makes exceptionally long cells – VM).

E. coli escherichia coli serves as a favorite model object for biochemists, geneticists and other scientists. Normally, the length of its cells is only 1-2 micrometers, but the authors of the article were lucky enough to obtain a strain of extremely long E.coli. In size, they exceed normal E. coli by 750 times, reaching a length of three quarters of a millimeter.

A snapshot from the press release of the American Society For Microbiology: Mutant Bacteria That Keep On Growing – VM

Such an increase is associated with a violation of the processes of cell division: mutant E. coli grow, but they do not split in two. Previously, specialists had already received similar strains, but all overgrown bacteria died after a few hours, since the mutation that disrupted cell division also affected the metabolic reactions of its carriers.

The mutation carried by giant bacteria from the new strain has no such side effects. It reduces only the concentration of the FtsZ protein, which marks the place of the future partition between two dividing cells. According to experts, the resulting giant bacteria do not have any constrictions, they only form multicellular loops.

It is more convenient to manipulate overgrown E. coli in the laboratory, the authors of the work say. So, with the help of a microscopic needle, cytoplasm can be sucked out of them without mixing fragments of the cell membrane with it. In the case of ordinary E.coli, this cannot be done.

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