Nav: Home

Complex bacterium writes new evolutionary story

February 01, 2017

A University of Queensland-led international study has discovered a new type of bacterial structure which has previously only been seen in more complex cells.

Research team leader UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences microbiologist Emeritus Professor John Fuerst said the study had found pore-like structures in a bacterium called Gemmata obscuriglobus.

"The pore-like structures appeared embedded into the bacteria's internal membranes, and showed some structural features similar to those in more complex organisms," he said.

"This is a remarkable evolutionary finding, since most bacteria do not possess these structures.

"Finding nuclear pore-like structures in the bacterial species Gemmata obscuriglobus is significant for understanding how the cell nucleus and the pores embedded in its membrane envelope could have evolved - a major unsolved problem in evolutionary cell biology."

Professor Fuerst said the bacterium, which was first isolated from Maroon Dam in South-East Queensland in 1984 by UQ researchers Dr Peter Franzmann and Professor Vic Skerman, now constituted one of the most complex bacteria known.

He said the finding suggested that the evolution of complex cell structures may not be unique to eukaryotes, which are organisms containing a nucleus and other structures (organelles) encased in a membrane.

"The research finding is consistent with previous data my lab has published indicating that the Gemmata obscuriglobus bacterium contains a nuclear body compartment, which parallels the eukaryote nucleus."

Professor Fuerst said the discovery was important for understanding how the first complex cells may have originated.

"The results are of evolutionary significance, since the origin of eukaryotes is a major event in life's history," he said.

Professor Fuerst said nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) were important in transporting molecules between the nucleus containing the DNA and the rest of the cell contents in eukaryote organisms such as protozoa, fungi, animals and plants.

"They are dotted over the surface of the membranes separating the nucleus from the rest of the cell and enable communication between the nucleus and other parts of the cell," he said.

"Like the membrane-bounded nucleus, NPC's had been thought to be restricted to eukaryotes."

The researchers used a combination of techniques including advanced electron microscopy, a protein analysis method called proteomics, and bioinformatics genome analysis to make the discovery.
-end-
The study, published in PLOS ONE, has been supported by Australian Research Council Discovery project grants to Professor Fuerst's laboratory.

Co-authors include researchers from UQ's Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis; CSIRO; University of Illinois; and University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

University of Queensland

Related Bacterium Articles:

New study explains extraordinary resilience of deadly bacterium
Researchers at the University of Maryland have identified how the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses tension-activated membrane channels to stop itself from swelling up and bursting when it is suddenly exposed to water.
Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems
MIT research on Prochlorococcus, the most abundant life form in the oceans, shows the bacteria's metabolism evolved in a way that may have helped trigger the rise of other organisms, to form a more complex marine ecosystem with overall greater biomass.
Common bacterium may help control disease-bearing mosquitoes
Genes from a common bacterium can be harnessed to sterilize male insects, a tool that can potentially control populations of both disease-bearing mosquitoes and agricultural pests, researchers at Yale University and Vanderbilt University report in related studies published Feb.
Sponge bacterium found to encapsulate arsenic drawn from environment
A new Tel Aviv University study sheds light on a unique biological model of arsenic detoxification.
Bacterium lassoes its way from the mouth to the heart to cause disease
The human mouth can harbor more than 700 different species of bacteria.
Complex bacterium writes new evolutionary story
A University of Queensland-led international study has discovered a new type of bacterial structure which has previously only been seen in more complex cells.
Planctomycete bacterium's internal membranes contain nuclear pore-like structures
A planctomycete bacterium features structures embedded in its internal membranes which resemble eukaryotic nuclear pores, according to a study published Feb.
Bacterium named after UQ researcher
University of Queensland microbiologist Emeritus Professor John Fuerst has a new bacterial genus (a group of related organisms) named in his honor.
New point of attack against stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori
There is a strong suspicion that Helicobacter pylori is linked to the development of stomach cancer.
New evidence shows how bacterium in undercooked chicken causes GBS
A Michigan State University research team is the first to show how a common bacterium found in improperly cooked chicken causes Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS.

Related Bacterium Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...