Bacteria (tiny and in some cases deadly unicellular organisms) are much more complex than is usually thought.
A review paper from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), published in the high-impact journal Nature Revisions Microbiology, sheds light on the organelles, the internal compartments of the bacterial cells that house and support functions essential for their survival and growth.
BDI Professor Trevor Lithgow and Associate Professor Chris Greening, experts in bacterial cell biology and physiology, were invited to review the scientific literature available worldwide to consolidate the latest knowledge on organelles.
“There was an ancient truism until recently that bacteria were simply a bag of enzymes, the simplest type of cell,” Professor Lithgow said. “New developments in nanoscale imaging have shown that internal compartments ̵1; organelles – make them very complex.”
Cryoelectron microscopy and high-resolution microscopy have allowed scientists to know the workings of bacterial organelles, which are typically 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a pine tip. The BDI has been at the forefront in Australia in adopting and developing the use of these technologies, said Professor Lithgow.
“It has been a rewarding experience to do this academic review and to be able to show the wide range of work that demonstrates the complexity of bacterial cells,” he said.
Organelles allow bacteria to do extraordinary things. They help photosynthesize bacteria in dimly lit environments, decompose toxic compounds such as rocket fuel, or even orient themselves in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field by aligning magnetic iron particles. Some bacteria use gas collected inside the organelles to control buoyancy to let them rise or deepen in the water, allowing optimal access to light and nutrients for growth and division.
Exploring and understanding the complexities of bacterial cells is important not only for scientific knowledge, but also for biotechnological applications and to address global human health problems.
“Organelles allow many bacteria to perform functions that are useful to us, from supporting the basic function of ecosystems to allowing all kinds of biotech advances. But some pathogens use organelles to cause disease,” said the associate professor of Greening. “The deadly pathogen that causes tuberculosis, for example, removes fat molecules from our own bodies and stores them as energy reserves in organelles, helping the pathogen to persist for years in our lungs, compromising treatment and making it possible to ’emergence of drug resistance’.
Professor Lithgow said that fighting drug-resistant infections are major problems in the 21st century. “In these times of COVID-19, the fatal accidents we see from viral infections are terrible, but the projection is that by 2050, at least 22,000 Australians (and ten million people worldwide) will die each year from infections caused by viral infections. drugs. resistant bacteria, “he said.
Specialized cell compartments discovered in bacteria
Chris Greening et al. Formation and function of bacterial organelles, Nature Revisions Microbiology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41579-020-0413-0
Provided by Monash University
Citation: Scientists expose fascinating ‘compartments’ to bacteria (2020, July 30) recovered on July 30, 2020 at https://phys.org/news/2020-07-scientists-expose-fascinating-compartments-bacteria.html
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