“World’s toughest bacterium” – Deinococcus radiodurans

Deinococcus radiodurans (Credit: TEM of D. radiodurans acquired in the laboratory of Michael Daly, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, USA. )
Deinococcus radiodurans (Credit: TEM of D. radiodurans acquired in the laboratory of Michael Daly, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, USA. )

The bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans, is thought to be discovered as a contaminant in radiation-sterilized cans in 1956. The name of the bacterium comes from the Ancient Greek, i.e. deinos and kokkos meaning “terrible grain/berry”, and the Latin language, i.e. radius and durare, meaning “radiation surviving”. The bacterium is also known as Conan the Bacterium.

Deinococcus radiodurans is a comparatively larger bacterium having spherical shape. It is a red-pigmented bacterium that does not cause diseases. The bacterium also possesses a highly efficient DNA repair system that is thought to be responsible for the unbelievable survival strategies.

It is considered as the toughest bacterium in the world as it is highly resistant to radiations, i.e. it can resist thousand times more radiation as compared to a normal person. The bacterium also has a strong ability to survive in conditions of cold, vacuum, dehydration, and acid. Therefore, it is also known as polyextremophile.

Deinococcus radiodurans in a dish (Source: science.nasa.gov)
Deinococcus radiodurans in a dish (Source: science.nasa.gov)

Deinococcus radiodurans has also been used by scientists for the consumption and digestion of solvents as well as heavy metals. It is also thought to have an ability to store information that can survive even after huge catastrophes.

Sources:

Data stored in multiplying bacteria – https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3243-data-stored-in-multiplying-bacteria/

Genome News Network – http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/07_02/deinococcus.shtml

The Possible Mechanisms Involved in the Protection Strategies against Radiation-Induced Cellular Damage by Carnitines – http://file.scirp.org/Html/1-2101023_53873.htm

Krisko, A., & Radman, M. (2013). Biology of Extreme Radiation Resistance: The Way of Deinococcus radiodurans Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 5 (7) DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012765

Meet Conan the Bacterium – https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/ast14dec99_1

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.