JAN 05, 2017 9:19 AM PST

What is the Biggest Single-Celled Organism?

WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Ellis

We are all multi-cellular beings. Mammals, amphibians and reptiles all are made up of complicated combinations of smaller cells. Of course, there are single-celled animals, but they are all extremely small. How come we don't see any single-celled elephants? Think of what would happen if a single celled organism were punctured or infected. It would die. When one cell in a multi-celled organism dies, it gets replaced. However, if we were made up of only one cell, we would die, too. Also, the surface to volume ratio of smaller cells is optimized for expelling waste and absorbing nutrients. Most single cells cannot accommodate a larger size because its volume would overtake its surface area and the cell would burst.

Caulerpa taxifolia appears to be the world's largest single-celled organism. It can grow up to 30 cm long and has some unique properties that allow it to grow as a single cell. It has a large surface area ratio, uses photosynthesis to make its own food, and has multiple nuclei. This plant seems to have figured out a way to proliferate with only one cell, proving it is possible but has limits, particularly in size.
About the Author
  • I love all things science and am passionate about bringing science to the public through writing. With an M.S. in Genetics and experience in cancer research, marketing and technical writing, it is a pleasure to share the latest trends and findings in science on LabRoots.
You May Also Like
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Discover Planet with Atmosphere of Vaporized Rock
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Discover Planet with Atmosphere of Vaporized Rock
Researchers have identified an exoplanet that appears to have an atmosphere composed of vaporized rock and oceans runnin ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
DEC 28, 2020
Immunology
What Happens When Your Immune System Works Against You?!
DEC 28, 2020
What Happens When Your Immune System Works Against You?!
Our immune system is our army against any molecule that wants to invade our bodies like viruses, bacteria, and cancer. I ...
DEC 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
DEC 28, 2020
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
China has recovered the first new moon rock samples in decades, and from a previously unexplored part of the moon. Now w ...
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
JAN 13, 2021
Astronomers Identify Another Crucial Aspect for Planets to Support Life
For some time now, we have known of the 'Goldilocks zone'- a distance from the sun that leads to planets neither ...
JUL 22, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
JUL 22, 2021
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
The Earth's atmosphere often muffles views from ground-based telescopes when observing space. Now, a research c ...
Loading Comments...