According to the scientists who were involved in the study, the bacteria are so small that they had to be frozen to -272 degrees Celsius in order to be carried from where they were discovered to the laboratory.
Jill Banfield, one of the authors of the study, explained that the recently discovered ultra-small bacteria are the perfect example of a subset of microbial life of which little is known.
After closely studying the almost-invisible bacteria, the scientists revealed that it has an average volume of 0.009 microns, a micron meaning the one millionth of a meter.
The recently discovered bacterium is actually smaller that the biggest known virus, which is approximately 1 micron across.
Researchers tried to explain how small these bacteria are, saying that they are so tiny that almost 150,000 of them could stand on the tip of a human hair.
The experts call these tiny bacteria enigmatic, and according to them, these microorganisms live in many environments and have an important role in microbial communities as well as ecosystems. The researchers are not exactly sure what the bacteria actually do.
Birgit Luef, who was also involved in studying the extra-small bacteria said that no one really knows who small a living organism can be, but so far, these bacteria are the smallest they’ve ever encountered.
According to Luef, the research plays an important role in further understanding the size, shape and internal structure of such small cells.
Because there is so little information known about these organisms, the scientists said that they do not know the function of more than half of the bacteria’s genes.
The smallest living organism in the world, of which the experts say it’s very common, was found in groundwater. The groundwater had to be filtered and the researchers used 2D and 3D cryogenic transmission electron microscopy to determine the bacteria’s size and internal structure.
The study showed that the microorganisms are reproducing through cell divisions, which indicated that the bacteria were healthy.
The findings of the new study were detailed in the journal Nature Communications.
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