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:1/6/2017)... , Jan. 5, 2017  Delta ID Inc., a ... scanning technology for automotive at CES® 2017. Delta ID ... ) to demonstrate the use of iris scanning as ... authenticate the driver in a car, and as a ... driving experience. Delta ID and Gentex will ...
(Date:1/4/2017)...  CES 2017 – Valencell , the leading ... the launch of two new versions of its ... sensor modules that incorporate the best of Valencell,s ... The two new designs include Benchmark BE2.0, a ... Benchmark BW2.0, a 2-LED version of its original ...
(Date:12/22/2016)... Calif. , Dec. 20, 2016  As part of ... 23andMe, the leading personal genetics company, recently released its latest ... . The book focuses on the topics of inheritance ... Generation Science Standards (NGSS) taught in elementary school classrooms in ... in a series by illustrator Ariana Killoran , whose ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/18/2017)... OF PRUSSIA, PA (PRWEB) , ... January 18, ... ... disrupt clinical operations again at the CHI SCOPE Summit for Clinical Ops Executives ... AstraZeneca in engaging panel discussions to examine vital clinical research issues such as ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... Shareholder rights law firm Johnson & Weaver, ... members of CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCD ... proposed sale of the Company to Eli Lilly and ... molecules for the acute treatment of migraines. ... a definitive merger agreement with Eli Lilly. Under the ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... Research Future published a half-cooked research report on Global Cancer Diagnostics ... CAGR of 12% during the period 2016 to 2022. ... ... without any control. These abnormal cells have the ability to invade ... spread to other parts of the body through the blood and ...
(Date:1/17/2017)... 2017  An international team of researchers from ... Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre/University of Manitoba have ... health need affecting nearly one in 15 Americans. ... their results identify small molecule drugs with neuroprotective ... injury in animal models of metabolic, chemical and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: