JAN 05, 2017 09:19 AM PST

What is the Biggest Single-Celled Organism?


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
SEP 15, 2018
Videos
SEP 15, 2018
A Hangover Cure in a Pill
A night of drinking can lead to a morning of regret for many people, but science is working on a solution for the physical pain....
SEP 20, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 20, 2018
Defining the "Colors" of Antimatter
Atoms of regular matters, such as hydrogen, can emit a distinct spectrum of lights when their electrons get excited and move between two different ene...
SEP 27, 2018
Videos
SEP 27, 2018
Why haven't Tesla's solar roofs taken off yet?
In October of 2016, Tesla came out with prototypes of solar roof panels that were meant to revolutionize the way we think about producing energy for our ho...
OCT 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 02, 2018
Here's What'd Happen if We Detonated a Nuclear Bomb in Space
Have you ever wondered what would happen if humankind detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb in space? If so, then this is a video you’ll want to w...
OCT 08, 2018
Technology
OCT 08, 2018
The SolarFlower is a Promising New Take on Solar Energy
Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source with promising applications in the near future as solar panel technology matures. SmartFlower is an int...
OCT 17, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 17, 2018
The Science Behind Tardigrade's Ability to Survive Dehydration
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are a type of eight-legged micro-animals that are less than half-millimeter in length.  There are over a thous...
Loading Comments...