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Bacteria which sense the Earth's magnetic field

somes lay like pearls on a string along the filament, in the cells missing MamJ, the empty magnetosome vesicles scattered themselves about. It also explains why, as soon as they grow to a particular size, the magnetic crystals clump together in mutant bacteria.

The scientists speculate that the MamJ protein develops, on one hand, on the surface of the magnetosome, and on the other hand, on the newly-discovered filament. It thus enables a close connection between the magnetosome vesicle and structure. This is further evidence of the diverse functions that cytoskeletal structures in bacteria seem to have, and which, for a long time, have only been known in eukaryotes -- i.e., organisms whose cells have nuclei.

The fact that the chain structure of bacterial nanomagnets is exactly regulated by genetics could also have implications for our understanding of the way higher organisms orient themselves to the magnetic field. We have known for some years that certain animals -- like migratory salmon or homing pigeons -- have magnetite crystal chains in particular tissue. These chains are astoundingly similar to those in bacteria, and possibly develop through a related mechanism.


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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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