MicrobeWorld App

appsquarebannerad200x200

Microbes After Hours

MWbannerEbola

Click for more "Microbes After Hours" videos

Join MicrobeWorld

Subscribe via Email

subscribe

Featured Image

Featured Video

Ebola Virus explained

Supporters

ASM House 200X200

'Living beach ball' is giant single cell

Image
In the late summer of 1882, a ship called the Triton cruised the chilly seas north of Scotland. As it went, it dredged the sea bed for specimens of unknown creatures, under the guidance of the oceanographer John Murray.

Two of the specimens were strange enough that Murray sent them to his colleague Henry Brady for examination. They were chunks of sand a few centimetres across, lightly cemented together and filled with a network of hollow branching tubes.

The samples were fragile and had been badly broken, but Brady was able to identify them as a new species, which he called Syringammina fragilissima: "very fragile sand pipe". A better name would have been very fragile sand beach ball, but Brady didn't see the organism underwater.

It turns out that Murray and Brady had discovered the first specimen of an entirely new group of organisms, the single-celled xenophyophores. Shunning the convention that single cells are microscopic, Syringammina is a brute, growing to a width of 10 centimetres ā€“ and sometimes even twice that.
 
 

Comments (0)

Collections (0)

 

American Society for Microbiology
2012 1752 N Street, N.W. ā€¢ Washington, DC 20036-2904 ā€¢ (202) 737-3600
American Society For Microbiology © 2014   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use