When you encounter a single-cell bacteria visible to the naked eye, you know there’s something very uncommon going on. That’s what biologist Jean Marrie Volland experienced when he stumbled upon this bacteria specie that can be 20mm big! (the image above is an artistic rendering, Mangrove photo by Pierre Yves Pascal; Illustration by Susan Brand/Berkeley Lab)
It turns out that these bacteria from Guadeloupe were spotted before by another researcher. Guadeloupe is a French territory located not far from Puerto Rico. Unsurprisingly, such mega bacteria come from a tropical area as it’s where I would imagine they thrive.
It seems unimaginable to find single-cell creatures that big, but there’s an explanation. This bacteria feeds on sulfur and is oversized because the mangroves where it was found generate copious amounts of that substance. Their family is called Thiomargarita Magnifica. Additionally, there’s no natural predator for bacteria this size.
Scientists believe that there might be even bigger bacteria out there. The good news is that this particular one is a scientific curiosity but doesn’t pose any dangers to humans. It is just a curious exception of nature, a bacteria you can catch with tweezers. If you swim around mangroves, keep your eyes open, you might spot one.