Hemimastix Kukwesjijk ― A New Type Of Organism That Is So Different From Other Living Things

Hemimastix Kukwesjijk ― A New Type Of Organism That Is So Different From Other Living Things

During a hike in Nova Scotia,  A Canadian scientist has discovered a new type of organism that is so different from other living things that it does not fit into the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, or any other kingdom used to classify known organisms.

Two species of the hemimastigote group of microbes were found in dirt collected in Nova Scotia during the hike by Yana Eglit (Dalhousie University graduate student). Based on a detailed genetic analysis, one of them has never been spotted before.

The first hemimastigote species to be identified was Spironema, which was spotted only a few times before. Then a second completely new species was discovered – the scientists named it Hemimastix Kukwesjijk.

Hemimastigotes are free-living predatory protists with two rows of flagella and unique cell architecture; no molecular sequence data or cultures are currently available for this group.

Their subsequent analysis of its DNA revealed that it was neither animal, plant, fungus, nor any recognized type of protozoan — that it had actually gone far beyond any of the known large categories for classifying complex forms of life (eukaryotes).

A team of researchers at Dalhousie University has found evidence suggesting that hemimastigotes are a major new branch of evolutionary life. The group describes their genetic study of the dirt-dwelling microbe in their paper published in the journal Nature.

Researchers note that hemimastigotes have been known to scientists since the 19th century, but scientists haven't been able to conduct a detailed genetic analysis of these microbes before now. Recently technology has allowed scientists to learn how different they are from other eukaryotic life forms.

An advanced genetic analysis by a new method called single-cell transcriptomics enables researchers to sequence large numbers of genes from just one cell.

Like animals, plants, fungi, and amoeba, hemimastigotes belong to a field of organisms called eukaryotes, all of which are cells in which DNA in the form of chromosomes is contained within a distinct nucleus.

But unlike other microscopic organisms, hemimastigotes move their flagella in a seemingly random manner rather than coordinated waves.

According to Alastair Simpson, Dalhousie biology professor and co-author of a study, "The organisms have no common ancestor to any other living thing in the last billion years." There's nothing we know is closely related to them."

Researchers continue to uncover not only new species or classes but entirely new kingdoms of life — raising questions about how they have remained hidden for so long and how close we are to finding them all.

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