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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Jun;9(6):403-13. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2578.

Beyond the bacterium: planctomycetes challenge our concepts of microbial structure and function.

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School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Planctomycetes form a distinct phylum of the domain Bacteria and possess unusual features such as intracellular compartmentalization and a lack of peptidoglycan in their cell walls. Remarkably, cells of the genus Gemmata even contain a membrane-bound nucleoid analogous to the eukaryotic nucleus. Moreover, the so-called 'anammox' planctomycetes have a unique anaerobic, autotrophic metabolism that includes the ability to oxidize ammonium; this process is dependent on a characteristic membrane-bound cell compartment called the anammoxosome, which might be a functional analogue of the eukaryotic mitochondrion. The compartmentalization of planctomycetes challenges our hypotheses regarding the origins of eukaryotic organelles. Furthermore, the recent discovery of both an endocytosis-like ability and proteins homologous to eukaryotic clathrin in a planctomycete marks this phylum as one to watch for future research on the origin and evolution of the eukaryotic cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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