Advertisement

The Influence of Environment and Metabolic Capacity on the Size of a Microorganism

  • W. Andrew Lancaster
  • Michael W. W. Adams
Chapter

Abstract

The environment a microorganism inhabits dictates the metabolic ­capacity necessary for it to survive, and ultimately the minimum size which an organism can achieve. Nutrient rich environments such as those experienced by parasitic bacteria can accommodate organisms with restricted metabolic capacities with relatively few genes, perhaps as few as 250. Nutrient poor environments, such as those experienced by autotrophs, provide only minerals and gases and require high biosynthetic capacity to synthesize all cellular carbon from CO2. This high biosynthetic capacity requires at most 1,500 (an actual value) and perhaps as few as 750 genes. Calculations show that as theoretical minimal cell size is decreased, the cellular volume devoted to the DNA required to encode the minimum gene ­complement becomes a limiting factor in further reduction. Assuming composition of 50% water, 20% protein, 10% ribosomes and 10% DNA, a spherical cell with minimum biosynthetic capacity (250 genes) would be at least 172 nm in ­diameter. A cell with high biosynthetic capacity (750 genes) of the same composition would be at least 248 nm in diameter. It is concluded that cells with biochemical ­requirements for growth, metabolism and reproduction similar to those of known organisms cannot be smaller than 172 nm.

Keywords

Diameter Cell Calcium Carbonate Precipitate Biosynthetic Capacity Environmental Dependence Minimal Cell Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Research carried out in the authors’ laboratory was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy

References

  1. Blattner FR, Plunkett G III, Bloch CA et al (1997) The complete genome sequence of Escherichia coli K-12. Science 277:1453–1462CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bult CJ, White O, Olsen GJ et al (1996) Complete genome sequence of the Methanogenic Archaeon, Methanococcus jannaschii. Science 273:1058–1073CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Carbone A (2006) Computational prediction of genomic functional cores specific to different microbes. J Mol Evol 63:733–746CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Deckert G, Warren PV, Gaasterland T et al (1998) The complete genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus. Nature 392:353–358CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Eguchi M, Nishikawa T, Macdonald K et al (1996) Responses to stress and nutrient availability by the marine Ultramicrobacterium Sphingomonas sp. Strain RB2256. Appl Environ Microbiol 62:1287–1294PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Fleischmann RD, Adams MD, White O et al (1995) Whole-genome random sequencing and assembly of Haemophilus influenzae Rd. Science 269:496–512CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Forterre P, Gribaldo S, Brochier-Armanet C (2009) Happy together: genomic insights into the unique Nanoarchaeum/Ignicoccus association. J Biol 8:7CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Fraser CM, Gocayne JD, White O et al (1995) The minimal gene complement of Mycoplasma genitalium. Science 270:397–403CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibson DG, Benders GA, Andrews-Pfannkoch C et al (2008) Complete chemical synthesis, assembly, and cloning of a Mycoplasma genitalium genome. Science 319:1215–1220CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Glass JI, Assad-Garcia N, Alperovich N et al (2006) Essential genes of a minimal bacterium. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:425–430CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Golden DC, Ming DW, Morris RV et al (2004) Evidence for exclusively inorganic formation of magnetite in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Am Mineral 89:681–695Google Scholar
  12. Huber H, Hohn MJ, Rachel R et al (2002) A new phylum of Archaea represented by a nanosized hyperthermophilic symbiont. Nature 417:63–67CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Kajander EO, Kuronen I, Akerman KK et al (1997). Nanobacteria from blood: the smallest culturable autonomously replicating agent on Earth. Instruments, methods, and missions for the investigation of extraterrestrial microorganisms. SPIE, San Diego, CA, USAGoogle Scholar
  14. Lapierre P, Gogarten JP (2009) Estimating the size of the bacterial pan-genome. Trends Genet 25:107–110CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Liolios K, Mavromatis K, Tavernarakis N et al (2008) The Genomes On Line Database (GOLD) in 2007: status of genomic and metagenomic projects and their associated metadata. Nucleic Acids Res 36:D475–D479CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Loveland-Curtze J, Miteva VI, Brenchley JE (2009) Herminiimonas glaciei sp. nov., a novel ultramicrobacterium from 3042 m deep Greenland glacial ice. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 59:1272–1277CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Martel J, Young JD (2008) Purported nanobacteria in human blood as calcium carbonate nanoparticles. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:5549–5554CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. McCliment EA, Voglesonger KM, O’Day PA et al (2006) Colonization of nascent, deep-sea hydrothermal vents by a novel Archaeal and Nanoarchaeal assemblage. Environ Microbiol 8:114–125CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. McKay DS, Gibson EK Jr, Thomas-Keprta KL et al (1996) Search for past life on Mars: possible relic biogenic activity in martian meteorite ALH84001. Science 273:924–930CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mushegian AR, Koonin EV (1996) A minimal gene set for cellular life derived by comparison of complete bacterial genomes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:10268–10273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Nakabachi A, Yamashita A, Toh H et al (2006) The 160-kilobase genome of the bacterial endosymbiont Carsonella. Science 314:267CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Neidhardt FC (1996) Chemical composition of Escherichia coli. In: Neidhardt FC, Umbarger HE (eds) Escherichia coli and Salmonella, cellular and molecular biology, vol 1, pp 13–16. America Society for Microbiology, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  23. Raoult D, Forterre P (2008) Redefining viruses: lessons from Mimivirus. Nat Rev Microbiol 6:315–319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Stetter KO (2006) Hyperthermophiles in the history of life. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 361:1837–1842, discussion 1842–1843CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Tamames J, Gil R, Latorre A et al (2007) The frontier between cell and organelle: genome analysis of Candidatus Carsonella ruddii. BMC Evol Biol 7:181CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Thomas-Keprta KL, Clemett SJ, Bazylinski DA et al (2002) Magnetofossils from ancient Mars: a robust biosignature in the martian meteorite ALH84001. Appl Environ Microbiol 68:3663–3672CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Waters E, Hohn MJ, Ahel I et al (2003) The genome of Nanoarchaeum equitans: insights into early archaeal evolution and derived parasitism. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:12984–12988CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Woese CR, Kandler O, Wheelis ML (1990) Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 87:4576–4579CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Andrew Lancaster
    • 1
  • Michael W. W. Adams
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations