Ten Craziest Things Cells Do

Ten Craziest Things Cells Do
Wallace Marshall
UCSF, 2017


Pseudomonas chlororaphis for controlling corn rootworms

A selective insecticidal protein from Pseudomonas for controlling corn rootworms
Ute Schellenberger, et al.
Science  22 Sep 2016
The coleopteran insect western corn rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte) is a devastating crop pest in North America and Europe. Although crop plants that produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) proteins can limit insect infestation, some insect populations have evolved to be resistance to Bt proteins. Here we describe an insecticidal protein, designated IPD072Aa, that is isolated from Pseudomonas chlororaphis.

journalistic version:

Microbial ecology

A microbial perspective of human developmental biology
Mark R. Charbonneau, et al.
Nature  535, 48–55 (07 July 2016)

non-bacterial membership of the pregnancy-associated microbiota

Molecular-based studies suggest that most uteruses harbour microbes, with Lactobacillus, Prevotella and Bacteroides among the genera that are most commonly encountered.

stochastic low-level microbial exposures

Taxa associated with CST IV communities, such as Ureaplasma and Prevotella species, …

Lactose is made available specifically to bacterial colonizers of the infant gut by extending it by 3–20 monosaccharide units to yield structures that are known collectively as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs)

Nanoarchaeum equitans

Nanoarchaeum equitans

Nanoarchaeum appears to be an obligate symbiont on the archaeon Ignicoccus; it must be in contact with the host organism to survive. Nanoarchaeum equitans cannot synthesize lipids but obtains them from its host.

The interaction of Nanoarchaeum equitans with Ignicoccus hospitalis: proteins in the contact site between two cells
Biochem. Soc. Trans. (2009) 37, 127–132
Tillmann Burghardt, et al.

The two archaea Ignicoccus hospitalis and Nanoarchaeum equitans form a unique intimate association, the character of which is not yet fully understood.
Electron microscopic investigations show that at least two modes of cell–cell interactions exist: (i) the two cells are interconnected via thin fibres; and (ii) the two cell surfaces are in direct contact with each other.

N. equitans has a genome of just 0.49 Mb, by far the smallest of all archaeal cells known today.
It apparently lacks genes for the biosynthesis of lipids, nucleotides, many amino acids and cofactors, i.e. molecules essential for the functioning of a physiologically active cell.
This led to the conclusion that N. equitans cells take up important metabolic products from their hosts [5].
Two studies provide evidence that this is indeed the case: the close match of the membrane lipid structure of both micro-organisms can best be explained by the transport of lipids from I. hospitalis to N. equitans [6]. 13C-labelling demonstrated the uptake of I. hospitalis amino acids by N. equitans cells [3].


Evolution: Steps on the road to eukaryotes
Nature, 06 May 2015
A new archaeal phylum represents the closest known relatives of eukaryotes, the group encompassing all organisms that have nucleated cells. The discovery holds promise for a better understanding of eukaryotic origins.

journalistic version:

Methane-munching microbes

Sea floors host surprise methane-munching microbes
Nature News. 14 October 2014
Organisms living in carbonate rock provide a previously unrecognized sink for the greenhouse gas.

Carbonate rocks near methane seeps in the sea floor are home to thriving ecosystems of microbes that consume that greenhouse gas, suggests research published in Nature Communications.