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Nostoc commune. Paracelsus named our genus in the 15th century. As we often grow in slimy green colonies, our name Nostoc was created from the old English (Nosthryl) and German (Nasenloch) for nostril that are often associated with "green and slimy extracellular polysaccharides".
We don't know yet, but it will not be bigger than 10 megabits. Bacteria have a lot smaller genomes than plants and animals.
Billions of years ago. We, Cyanobacteria, evolved round 2.5 billion years ago, which was long before the evolution of eukaryotic organisms. We were the first ones able to generate oxygen through photosynthesis and our ancestors led to the evolution of the plant cell via the endosymbiont hypothesis.
I should be sequenced because... I am part of the invisible microbial world that contributes to nitrogen cycling, provide food and even sometimes become a human health risk.
Tell us more...:
Nostoc species belong to a group of bacteria called Cyanobacteria which are pigmented bacteria that create their energy by way of photosynthesis, similar to green algae and plants. The common name is blue-green algae because of their blue-green colour and similar morphology of algae.
Nostoc can be found in many environments such as soil, rocks, stream and lakes. It may also grow symbiotically with fungi to form lichen or plants such as Gunnera and Cycad. Nostoc fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere and so plays an important role for both plants and animals. Colonies of Nostoc species appear black and brittle when dry, but become swollen green-blue masses with the consistency of jelly when in contact with water. The rapid growths of Notoc after the rain, led to a common belief in the middle-ages that this blue-green jelly fell from the sky.
Nostoc cyanobacteria have even been send to space to test if they would be good terra-forming photosynthetic organisms for space habitation such as Mars.
Another cool fact about me is that the blue colour for smarties is made from cyanobacteria pigment.
The word Nostoch was invented by the 15th century scientist, philosopher, and alchemist Paracelsus to describe the gelatinous colonies of Nostoc commune. The name was derived from the Old English and German word for Nostril and Nasenloch. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek also examined and described the genus under his prototype microscope in 1702. However, mentions of Nostoc can be traced back much further in human history. Over 1,600 years ago during the time of the Eastern Jin Dynasty 317-420 AD Nostoc commune (known as Ge-Xian-Mi) was used as a staple food by Alchemist Hung Ge. Nostoc is still cultivated and consumed as a food source, primarily in Asia due to its high protein and vitamin C content. All cyanobacteria including Nostoc, produce beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells. By sequencing the genome of this cyanobacteria we can learn more about how genes work together to direct the growth, development and maintenance of Nostoc commune.
Nostoc has grabbed both scientists and the public’s attention for thousands of years due to its divergent properties and almost magical appearance. It would be fantastic to be able to sequence this genome to have 21st century scientific insight into this species and reveal the secrets within the DNA of the so-called nostril slime or troll’s butter.
Cyanobacteria in the lab.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
blue-green, slimy and make oxygen from sunlight
What's it like where you live?
I can live nearly everywhere: on rocks and soil as well as rivers and lakes across the UK. I am not so keen on seawater environments. I am also common in the tropics and even the polar regions.
What's your favourite food?
Sunshine and a few nutrients : I fix my own dinitrogen from the atmosphere through nitrogen fixation enzymes, but i need a bit of phosphate once in a while.
What's your family life like?
We can grow in big slimy green colonies.
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
We are not threatened.
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
I might be small and slimy but i am important ecosystems world wide and even human health. I am important for nitrogen fixation including rice field and the polar regions. In some countries, we are also eaten and some people think that we are a delicatessen. Some research studies also found that some of us produce neurotoxins that can be harmful for humans.