Ultra-small bacteria are so little understood that they haven't quite been given an official place on the tree of life yet. At just 0.009 cubic microns, they're believed to be near the limit of how small life can get—150 of them could make themselves a comfortable home inside an E. Coli cell. And now we have a picture of one, thanks to a paper in .
Not surprisingly, these minute organisms are fragile and difficult to image. But a team from U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley managed to get the shot by freezing the bacteria at -457 degrees Fahrenheit, just two degrees short of absolute zero.
It's just the first step toward a better understanding of these common but hard-to-sequester forms of life. They could help researchers understand the origins of life itself and find out just how small organisms can get. Perhaps the next step is nabbing some of their genetic material.