Nanobacteria: Alive or Dead?

Linda Yager

In order for anything to be considered living, they must actively exhibit each characteristic of life.

  1. All living things must be made up of cells
  2. All living things must obtain and use energy
  3. All living things must grow
  4. All living things must develop
  5. All living things must reproduce
  6. All living things must react to a stimulus
  7. All living things must adapt to their environment

The scientific world is greatly divided on this issue concerning the “state of life” of nanobacteria. Kajander is a biologist whose research has lead to the belief that nanobacteria are alive. His experiments proved every characteristic of life except one highly debated one: do nanobacteria obtain and use energy?

Nanobacteria are nonliving, dormant versions of macromolecules found in tissue or rocks and meteorites. Monica Bruckner from Montana State University and other scientists have found that nanobacteria can be related to the formation of kidney stones due to their biomineralization process (Bruckner, 2016). However, this claim has been refuted because they suggest that this biomineralization is caused by non-living biological molecules. There is also evidence that these nanobes have DNA using a fluorescent stain known as DAPI that binds to A-T abundant regions in DNA (Bruckner, 2016). Nanobacteria grow and reproduce very slowly usually every 3 to 6 days which proves an important characteristic of life: having the ability to reproduce. When nanobacteria are exposed to the liquid that separates when blood coagulates known as serum, the nanobacteria will not generate a biofilm which indicates that nanobes react to a stimulus (Free Republic, 2003). If serum is introduced to the nanobacteria, the serum will cause the biofilm shell to decompose and begin an environmental response to change shape called pleomorphism (Mezo, Ciftcioglu, Kajander). During this pleomorphic process, a spherical bacterium called a coccus will be released into the bloodstream along with D-shaped nanobacteria, a spore-producing structure called a fruiting body and subatomic or elementary particles. The pleomorphic process shows that the Nanobacteria can evolve, develop and react to a stimulus because of its changes in shape (Mezo, Ciftcioglu, Kajander). All of these components may lead to the belief that nanobacteria are alive, but after researching scholarly articles and the Center for Disease Control I still have not found whether or not nanobacteria can produce energy. This leads me again to the conclusion that nanobacteria are not biotic.
According to an article on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America organization website scientists John O. Cisar, John Thompson, William Swaim, and Dennis J. Kopecko conducted an experiment with some very interesting findings.
“Furthermore, the 16S rDNA sequences previously ascribed to Nanobacterium sanguine and Nanobacterium sp. were found to be indistinguishable from those of an environmental microorganism, Phyllobacterium myrsinacearum, that has been previously detected as a contaminant in PCR. Thus, this data does not provide plausible support for the existence of a previously undiscovered bacterial genus. Instead, we provide evidence that biomineralization previously attributed to nanobacteria may be initiated by nonliving macromolecules and transferred on “subculture” by self-propagating microcrystalline apatite.” (Cisar, Thompson, Swaim, Kopecko, 2000)
These researchers noticed that nanobacterium acted very similarly to phyllobacterium myrsinacearum which is a bacteria that does not retain the violet stain used in the Gram staining procedure. Phyllobacterium myrsinacearum has been discovered as a contaminant in the polymerase chain reaction which is used to observe and generate copies of DNA. These scientists also believe that the biomineralization that is caused by nanobacteria is actually caused by nonliving/dormant macromolecules. This claim further proves my position that nanobacteria are not alive, but that they are nonliving or mutated versions of macromolecules.
Although I am not a biologist who is educated on the topic of bacteria, I do have a theory as to what exactly nanobacteria are. Macromolecules are molecules that are created by a substance that has a molecular structure that consists of an abundance of similar units bonded together. According to Biochemistry, 5th Edition by Jeremy M. Berg, John L. Tymoczko and Lubert Stryer, the most common macromolecules are biopolymers like nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, polyphenols as well as non-polymeric molecules like lipids. Since nanobacteria are pleomorphic, my theory is that nanobacteria are the dead, dormant or mutated macromolecules. Since nanobacteria are said to cause multiple health conditions in various parts of the body like complications in the heart, kidney stones, and vascular wall nanobacterial infection, this correlates to the characteristic of macromolecules and how they can be present in many parts of the body (Mezo, Ciftcioglu, Kajander). Thus bringing us back to the conclusion that nanobacteria in the human body are not alive.

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