The missing link between prokaryotes and eukaryotes may have been finally discovered. This discovery of Lokiarchaeota or Loki will help solve many puzzling questions that had remained unanswered up until now.
Swedish scientists have found a new bacterium that may just be the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle that completes our picture of life on a microbiological level. Billions of years ago these microbial bits and pieces made up the building blocks of plants, fungi and animals.
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We all know that life is composed of cells. And whereas bacteria have very small cells, today’s life forms such as mammals and reptiles have very large and spacious cells. Besides this there is a difference in the scale of complexity between the two types. And when you go into the genesis of these cells, things can get really tangled due to lack of knowledge on many fronts.
But now the missing link between life forms in their original subtypes has been found and with it many valid questions have been laid to rest. Termed the Archaea, these are linked with the eukaryotes. This may seem rather enigmatic to begin with but it needs closer focus to bear out the sensible nature of the fact. The discovery of Loki cells are what join the two. They are the originating materials of the eukaryotes.
“The puzzle of the origin of the eukaryotic cell is extremely complicated, as many pieces are still missing. We hoped that Loki would reveal a few more pieces of the puzzle, but when we obtained the first results, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The data simply looked spectacular”, said Thijs Ettema of Uppsala University's Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, who lead the study in a statement.
“By studying its genome, we found that Loki represents an intermediate form in-between the simple cells of microbes, and the complex cell types of eukaryotes”, added Ettema.
When researchers found out about this brand new discovery they could not believe their luck. Located in a spot between Greenland and Norway, these neo-bacteria have the scientific community in a tizzy alright. While the vent from which the bacteria were discovered is joined to an underwater volcanic area, the temperature is not so high as to make the existence of life an impossibility. And so as luck would have it, these new microscopic life forms were found there.
Already there are plans to explore the complexities of these microbial forms of dark matter. They exist in conditions that are not commonly found on earth. And there are many things the researchers and scientists will learn from their properties and interactions with other substances in the lab. The discovery of the missing link between the prokaryotes and eukaryotes is something which is somewhat of a milestone in microbiology.
It represents the watershed where the pieces finally start to join each other and a more complete picture of the grand design of Nature at the microlevel becomes more obvious. And that is cause for celebration indeed.
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This study published in Nature this week.