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Scientists are discovering fascinating “compartments” in bacteria



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Bacteria – tiny and in some cases deadly monolayer organisms – are much more complex than is commonly thought.

Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) evaluation report, published in a high-impact journal Nature Review Microbiology, sheds light on the organelles, the internal compartments in bacterial cells that store and support the functions necessary for their survival and growth.

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

“Until recently, there was an age betrayal that bacteria were simply a pocket of enzymes, the simplest type of cell,”

; said Professor Lithgow. “New developments in nanoscale imaging have shown that internal compartments – organelles – make them very complex.”

Cryoelectron microscopy and high-resolution microscopy have allowed scientists to understand the workings of bacterial organelles, which are typically 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a pin. BDI is at the forefront of the introduction and development of the use of these technologies in Australia, said Professor Lithgow.

“It was an enriching experience with this scientific examination and the ability to demonstrate a wide range of work that demonstrates the complexity of bacterial cells,” he said.

Organelles allow bacteria to do extraordinary things. They help bacteria photosynthesize in poorly lit environments, decompose toxic compounds such as rocket fuel, or even orient themselves with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field by arranging magnetic iron particles. Some bacteria use the gas collected in the organelles to control buoyancy to let them rise or fall deeper in the water, allowing optimal access to light and nutrients for growth and division.

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

“Organelles allow many bacteria to perform functions useful to us, from supporting the basic functions of ecosystems to enabling a variety of biotechnological advances. However, several pathogens use organelles to cause disease, “said Professor Greening. “A deadly pathogen that causes tuberculosis, for example, captures fatty molecules from our bodies and stores them as energy reserves in organelles, which helps the pathogen persist for years in our lungs, jeopardizing treatment and increasing the likelihood of drug resistance.”

Combating drug-resistant infections are a key challenge for humans in the 21st century, said Professor Lithgow. “In these times of COVID-19, the number of victims we see for viral infections is terrible, but by 2050, at least 22,000 Australians (and 10 million people worldwide) are expected to die each year as a result of drug-related infections. resistant bacteria, “he said.


Specialized cell compartments discovered in bacteria


More information:
Chris Greening et al. Formation and function of bacterial organelles, Nature Review Microbiology (2020). DOI: 10,1038 / s41579-020-0413-0

Provided by Monash University



Citations: Scientists uncover fascinating “compartments” in bacteria (2020, July 30) obtained on July 30, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-scientists-expose-fascinating-compartments-bacteria.html

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