Scientists have reported discovering a series of previously unknown microscopic species on Earth.
The number of plant and animal species on our precious planet is estimated to be approximately 8.7 million. Yet, there are only about 1.2 million species that have been identified and described so far, most of which are insects. Therefore, millions of other organisms, some experts suggest more than 100 million, are completely unknown to us.
Scientists have recently discovered several very rare microorganism species, some of which are rare and have eluded observations by scientists for over a century.
These elusive species were discovered by a pair of unconventional scientists who had never met in person, and their work has been published in the scientific journal PROTIST. Professor Genoveva Esteban, a Professor at Bournemouth University, and James Weiss, an independent researcher with two cats in Warsaw, Poland, were fortunate to collaborate in a scientific work that eventually spotted the species.
Scientists and the general public will learn more about life at the microscopic level through their approach to science and the discovery of these new and rare organisms. The researchers hope that thousands of young people will be inspired to study science and prove the significance of microscopic life on earth, as well as prove how important microbiology is to all living organisms.
A microorganism consists of only one cell and is the simplest life form on earth. We can find them all over, whether in small puddles or vast oceans, and the best part is that there is still much to learn about them.
Despite the fact that whole ecosystems are dependent on biodiversity, biodiversity at a microscopic level is not well understood.
“Some of these species are completely new, and others have not been seen for over a century. We documented many curious behaviors on them and carried out a DNA analysis of them for the first time, explained Professor Esteban.
“This means we can understand more about their relationships with other microbes and find new branches for them on the tree of life,” Professor Esteban continued.
One of the rarest and newest microorganisms discovered is Legendrea loyezae.
According to Professor Esteban, “We don’t know what the organism was named after; the 100-plus-year-old French description doesn’t provide any information about where the name originated, but we suspect it was after someone since ‘Legendre’ is a common French name.
In addition, they discovered a Lacerus, meaning “having irregular edges” because of the serrated appearance of the cell edges, as well as an Apertospathula, which means “ventral mouth opening”.
New names have not been assigned to the species yet, but Weiss hopes they will be accompanied by contemporary fictional references that will draw the attention of people of all ages.
In fact, most life on Earth has always been microscopic. Most organisms on the tree of life are microscopic. In the early ages of Earth, microorganisms were the first predators, and their greedy appetites contributed significantly to the evolution of complex life, Weiss explained.
“As prey developed better defenses, predators needed to develop better ways of catching them. After the evolution of multicellular, complex life they became the main food source for others such as krill and plankton, which in turn are food for larger species. If the organisms at the very bottom were removed, all other parts of the food chain above them would collapse too,” he added.
During the course of 18 months, the duo tested thousands of samples from water bodies, primarily from Poland but also all around the globe.
In this research, no one else has looked for these, nor has there been such intensive searching for microbes in the past, explained Prof. Esteban.
Th researchers knew they would come across something new by taking so many samples almost every day, as with all forms of wildlife spotting. As science gains more knowledge of the microscopic world, researchers are better able to understand the rest of their habitats, in which other forms of life thrive.
Scientists isolated microorganisms from each sample and studied their DNA to determine whether some were new to science and others were extremely rare, but this task also involved in a specialist taking part. As part of the team, Demetra Andreou, a molecular ecologist at Bournemouth University, also provided her expertise.
The research was published in