Heather Nations
There exists in the world billions of species of microorganisms. What makes them all individual is their differing characteristics of shape, size, habitat, or possibly a food source.  Some of the most interesting of these organisms belong to the genus Haloarcula (salt box).  This bacterium is square!  Its uniqueness is attributed to the fact that so very few natural living things are square.  Most living things are spherical, round, cylindrical, or conical, all possessing a circular quality of some kind.  Why this bacterium prefers existence in a square form is still a mystery.

Haloarcula is found in extremely salty waters.  It was discovered in Egypt by a scientist named Tony Walsby of Wales.  He was studying the effects of gas vacuoles in bacteria in response to their buoyancy and positioning.  When he looked at the water samples under the microscope, he was surprised to see these tiny square organisms.  However, he could not be mistaken in their existence in their existence when every milliliter of brine water contained approximately 70 million of them.

These bacteria move about like other species of motile bacteria:  by means of a flagellum.  In order to change directions they reverse the winding of the flagellum, counterclockwise or clockwise.  It was a surprise to scientists when this fact was discovered, seeing that their square shapes might hinder their free movements.

This microorganism does not perform spectacular feats as some do, not does it produce any horrific toxins or cause any terrible diseases.  It does however, live in extremely harsh conditions unsuitable for most life that exists on Earth.  That is what is most striking about many species in the Kingdom Monera.

From Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R. and C.L. Case. Microbiology an Introduction. Addison Wesley and Longman, Inc. New York 1997

Dixon, Bernard.  Power Unseen.  New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1996.

Madigan, Michael, John Martinko, Jack Parker.  Biology of
Microorganisms.  Upper Saddle River NJ:  Prentice Hall, 1996.


*Disclaimer - This report was written by a student participaring in a microbiology course at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The accuracy of the contents of this report is not guaranteed and it is recommended that you seek additional sources of information to verify the contents.


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