Meyer et al., (2009, 38-39) stated that organisms are usually “grouped” according to their traits in a single taxon which is to track the original ancestor of the specie; the traditional naming was based on the Linnaean classification composed of: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and specie. It is important to note first the characteristics of the organism before naming. In the scientific world, taxonomy is the universal language in which scientists from different nations understood each other because of the Latinized classifications as a result of the physical attributes, performance, lifespan, location of the discovery, cell structure, cellular activity, and chemical composition. For instance, bacteria are placed within the Kingdom Monera. One specific example was the newly discovered organism called Deinococcus viola. In 2010, researchers from the Kharkov National Medical University in Ukraine discovered microbial mutation in the small town of Pripyat. Previously, in the summer of April 26, 1986, Chornobyl Incident occurred when one of the nuclear reactors of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded due to miscalculations and high energy outputs. As a result, the small Ukrainian town of Pripyat was highly affected; residents sought refuge to nearby towns as the government proclaimed that the city was inhabitable due to persistent radioactive waste materials scattered from the explosion (Stone 2001, 420). Although the incident happened twenty nine years ago, the horrors and the devastating effects of the nuclear explosion are still evident up to this day. Pripyat still retains the memories of the tragic explosion and eerie atmosphere; however, this town was the birthplace of the greatest bacterial threat. Samples of air, water, and soil from Pripyat were collected and examined. Researchers injected small amounts of radium and uranium to isolate the bacteria from the samples in order to get bacterial cultures. Uranium and radium are two radioactive chemicals present in Pripyat’s environment. Three the isolated cultures were placed in different locations: one in room with 56.7° (134.6 °F); the second one in a room with -89.6° (129.28 °F), while the last culture was placed in a standard room temperature with oxygen and sunlight. The previous two samples were air and sunlight deprived but the findings noted that the bacteria still managed to thrive. D. viola is akin to the bacteria Deinococcus radiodurans because the former can withstand extreme temperatures, harsh environments, and thrives in aerobic conditions. While D. radiodurans are red and they grow into pairs of cocci (Chan & O’Toole 1998, 846). On the other hand, D. viola is noted for its deep purple color and spiral-shape. It begins as a normal separate spirillum; but after a fortnight, it splits itself to two halves without dividing the entire cell; hence, a thick spiral base is formed while two thin spirals serve as ‘arms’ or flagella to enable the bacteria to move from different locations. Researchers also noted that the flagella have a slightly different color than the matured bacteria. A matured D. viola has a darker purple color and after undergoing incomplete cellular fission, the divided parts have lighter red-purplish color while the base retains the darker color purple. Once the two flagella reaches maturity, the base changes its color from dark purple to black and detaches away from the flagella. Then the thin flagella spirals become a matured dark purple bacterium and repeat the asexual reproduction. The cellular structure of D. viola is covered by a thin cell wall and the entire cell has a cytoplasmic membrane. Interestingly, unlike other bacteria, 0.1% of the cytoplasmic compositions have small traces of acetate. Pripyat’s air still has small traces of nuclear wastes and D. viola uses hazardous wastes to feed itself to increase the bacterial population. While it may seem beneficial for the community, an increase of D. viola population is detrimental to the human, plant, and animal health. When a human or animal is exposed to air contaminated with D. viola, they will suffer symptoms of dizziness, fatigue, drying of skin, frothing of the mouth, and within 24 hours, the bacteria slowly causes the skin to turns purplish. Death follows afterwards since there is no medication available to combat the bacterial resistance. Even if a victim dies from D. viola, there are high chances of bacterial transmission to other people such as health workers. For plants, the symptoms include turning the leaves to violet color with yellow spotting. Eating vegetables exposed to D. viola is prohibited as it may cause direct bacterial transmission.
Chan, W.F. & O’Toole, D.K. (1998). “Isolation of Deinococcus Species from Commercial Oyster Extract.” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 65(2), 846-848. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC91106/pdf/am000846.pdf
Meyer, D.L., Davis, R.A., & Holland, S.M. (2009). A Sea without Fish: Life in the Ordovician Sea of the Cincinnati Region. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16gz7n3.8
Stone, R. (2001). “Living in the Shadow of Chornobyl.” Science, 292(5516), 420–426. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3082757