Thiomargarita namibensis (Giant sulfur bacteria)

This is Thiomargarita namibiensis – the largest of all known bacteria. Individual cells can reach nearly 1mm in diameter. These bacteria are lithotrophs that gain energy from the oxidation of sulfide using oxygen or nitrate as an electron acceptor. The bright spots are elemental sulfur that is stored inside the cell. These samples were collected off of Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Thiomargarita namibiensis, the world's largest known bacterial "species."
Thiomargarita namibiensis, the world’s largest known bacterial “species.”

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    @Jake this is incredible. To see a single bacteria so large (that’s around 150um) is unbelievable. You can also see organization of the sulfur granules. They are in a string like structure.

    Can’t wait to see how they divide. By this post; you have brought many of us in your journey to Namibia. Thank you. Would love to see some pictures of your surroundings; actually where you collected them and your friends helping you.

    Should we send more microscopes?


  2. Manu Prakash says:

    This is what I could find about Walvis Bay :


  3. Manu Prakash says:

    @jake: have you sequenced these guys? Can you point out some bioinformatics resources.

    @laks: take a look at these giga gigantic bacteria 🙂


  4. laksiyer says:

    I have heard of this before, but that these are visible to the naked eye is AMAZING. Unbelievable. These are known to have some vacuole like bodies. Seeing division would be fantastic, or even deposition of the sulfur granules. I dont think their genomes are sequenced, cant wait to see what they have. I have seen Beggiatoa which I think is related. Wonder if there is any way to get it under my foldscope??

  5. laksiyer says:

    @Jake.. If possible, could you also post some pictures of their natural habitat, a biofilm, or if cultured, a colony. I wonder what type of colonies these might form.

  6. Manu Prakash says:

    @laks: I have asked @Jake to bring some from Namibia. When I get some; I will split and send some to you as well. Can’t wait to see it divide.

  7. laksiyer says:

    @Manu that will be unbelievable. I am currently in the process of setting up a Winogradsky column, wonder if one could inoculate it and keep it going for long.

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