A new branch of life?
A new organism has been discovered in a pile of slime buried in a lake in Norway. The organism is so unusual that the scientific team which has examined it genetically are declaring that it should have its own location on the tree of life.
According to Genome Web
, scientists have discovered a new type of life-form. It is called Collodictyon and is a type of algae-eating protozoan. Strictly speaking it cannot be classified as an animal, fungus of bacterium.
reports that the Collodictyon was discovered in the sludge of a Norwegian lake by a research team. A sample was taken back to the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo and examined by a tram led by Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi.
The key observation was that Collodictyon is parasitic, for it consumes algae. It is 30 to 50 micrometres long and can only be seen with a microscope.
The conclusion of the research team, summarized by a University of Oslo press release
, was that Collodictyon was like nothing ever seen on Earth before. Scientists have said that the new organism should have its own branch (a new lineage) on the tree of life, where it falls between a type of single-celled parasites called excavates and amoebas. The uniqueness was established by genetic testing.
The findings were published
in the journal Molecular Biology Evolution in a paper titled "Collodictyon—An Ancient Lineage in the Tree of Eukaryotes". In the conclusion the scientific team hope that the discovery will provide some clues about the origin of life on Earth.