Navigation Links
The magnetic sense
Date:7/10/2012

Migratory birds and fish use the Earth's magnetic field to find their way. LMU researchers have now identified cells with internal compass needles for the perception of the field and can explain why high-tension cables perturb the magnetic orientation.

Although many animal species can sense the geomagnetic field and exploit it for spatial orientation, efforts to pinpoint the cells that detect the field and convert the information into nerve impulses have so far failed. "The field penetrates the whole organism, so such cells could be located almost anywhere, making them hard to identify," says LMU geophysicist Michael Winklhofer. Together with an international team, he has located magnetosensory cells in the olfactory epithelium of the trout.

The researchers first used enzymes to dissociate the sensory epithelium into single cells. The cell suspension was then stimulated with an artificial, rotating magnetic field. This approach enabled the team to identify and collect single magnetoresponsive cells, and characterize their properties in detail. Much to Winklhofer's surprise, the cells turned out to be more strongly magnetic than previously postulated - a finding that explains the high sensitivity of the magnetic sense.

Magnetite crystals show the way

The cells sense the field by means of micrometer-sized inclusions composed of magnetic crystals, probably made of magnetite. The inclusions are coupled to the cell membrane, which is necessary to change the electrical potential across the membrane when the crystals realign in response to a change in the ambient magnetic field. "This explains why low-frequency magnetic fields generated by powerlines disrupt navigation relative to the geomagnetic field and may induce other physiological effects," says Winklhofer.

The new findings could lead to advances in the sphere of applied sciences, for example in the development of highly sensitive magnetometers. In addition, they raise the question of whether human cells are capable of forming magnetite and if so, how much. "If the answer to the question is yes", Winklhofer speculates, "intracellular magnetite would provide a concrete physiological substrate that could couple to so-called electrosmog". (PNAS, 9. July) (gd)


'/>"/>
Contact: Dr. Kathrin Bilgeri
kathrin.bilgeri@lmu.de
49-892-180-6938
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NUS-led research team discovers how bacteria sense salt stress
2. Manatee hearing good enough to sense approaching motorboats
3. A test of the senses in the search for a shoal mate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017 Optimove , ... by retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today ... Recommendations and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, ... product and replenishment recommendations to their customers based ... predictions of customer intent drawn from a complex ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... - Against identity fraud with DERMALOG solutions "Made in Germany "  ... ... multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity fraud. (PRNewsFoto/Dermalog Identification Systems) ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide a crucial contribution against identity ... ...
(Date:3/7/2017)... Brandwatch , the leading social intelligence company, today announces that it ... insights to support its reporting, help direct future campaigns, and share ... charity will be using Brandwatch Analytics social listening and analytics technology ... the topics and issues that are a priority for its supporters. ... "Until recently we,ve ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017  SeraCare ... to global in vitro diagnostics manufacturers and ... the industry,s first multiplexed Inherited Cancer ... testing by next-generation sequencing (NGS). The Seraseqâ„¢ ... developed with input from industry experts to ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- Kineta, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on ... today announced the discovery and characterization of several ... interferon response factor 3 (IRF3) via RIG-I like ... in a murine colon carcinoma mouse model.  Furthermore, ... regression to initial drug treatment were resistant to ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... -- In today,s pre-market research, Stock-Callers.com takes ... industry: Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO), Eyegate Pharmaceuticals Inc. ... Regulus Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: RGLS ). On ... rating on Pharmaceuticals/Biotechnology to "Overweight" from "Market Weight." Learn more about ... ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017  Ascendis Pharma A/S (Nasdaq: ... TransCon technology to address significant unmet medical needs ... the full year ended December 31, 2016. ... our company as we broadened our pipeline and ... rare disease company with an initial focus on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: