Most of the trillions of life forms that we have on our planet can not be seen with the naked eye. Dominant organisms are actually microbes, and it seems that every week a new species appears in the strangest places.
The last bacterium found this week is inside our mouths or, more precisely, inside our saliva. This type of parasitic bacteria can predominate only if it infects other surrounding bacteria.
This parasitic bacterium is not able to create its own amino acids, since it has a very small number of genes – only 700.
Thus, in order to continue his existence, he steals the amino acids from the host cell. This was explained by a team of researchers from the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), which occurred earlier this month in Boston.
New Scientist reported that, according to Jeff McLean, the head of the research group and adjunct professor of periodontology at the Washington University dental school, these ultra-small bacteria live on the surfaces of other bacteria.
This new variant is similar to Bdellovibrio, the only strain of bacteria known to infect other bacterial cells. But the newly discovered hunter, named TM7, is a free-living cell that seems to be constantly hunted down by its potential hosts, and this is what makes it unique.
Human saliva has new parasitic species of bacteria for some time, but, as New Scientist explains, it was very difficult to cultivate and grow in the laboratory. As it turns out, the reason for this is the need to survive the host.
Initially, the team analyzed the genetic strains of bacteria found on different examples of human saliva. Then they accidentally discovered a secret RNA fragment, which is a structural element of the genetic sequences of many viruses that could not be identified immediately.
Although this part of RNA was found earlier by other groups of researchers, this group was able to trace it to a new bacterium in human saliva. After identifying the culprit, the researchers could observe his behavior. It was found that he lives on groups of common bacteria Actinomyces odontolyticus, whose members are located in different environments around the world.
A newly discovered parasitic bacterium joins the membrane of bacteria Actinomyces odontolyticus and begins to suck nutrients out of its host. Initially, this is acceptable, but later the parasite brutally attacks and kills bacteria, and eventually its sticky contents begin to flow out of the holes bent in it.
It is known that Actinomyces odontolyticus promotes gum disease, so specific white blood cells track and consume them. But, once infected with the new TM7, they better avoid white blood cells, so they worsen gum disease.
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