Navigation Links
Researchers reveal mystery of bacterial magnetism

Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Purdue University have shed light on one of microbiology's most fascinating mysteries--why some bacteria are naturally magnetic. Their description of how being magnetic "helps" the bacteria is reported in the August 2006 issue of the Biophysical Journal.

Magnetic bacteria are found in a variety of aquatic environments, such as ponds and lakes. The strain of bacterium the research team studied, Magnetospirillum magneticum, was originally found in a pond in Tokyo, Japan. Magnetic bacteria typically live far below the surface, where oxygen is scarce. (They do not grow well where oxygen is plentiful.) What makes them fascinating is that they naturally grow strings of microscopic magnetic particles called magnetosomes. When placed in a magnetic field, the bacteria align like tiny swimming compass needles, a phenomenon call magnetotaxis.

The research team is using genetic engineering to create a strain of the bacteria that become magnetic only when exposed to specific toxic chemicals, with the goal of using them as living chemical sensors. As a first step, they have created a strain that cannot make magnetosomes and therefore is not magnetic. Dr. Lloyd Whitman from NRL, who led the research team, explains that "during the course of our research, we realized that nobody had ever really demonstrated that being magnetic actually helps the bacteria." "Genetic modification allowed us to directly observe differences in behavior between magnetic and non-magnetic versions of the same bacterium," adds Professor Bruce Applegate. Professor Applegate directed the genetic engineering at Purdue, with the assistance of Professor Lazlo Csonka, Dr. Lynda Perry, and Ms. Kathleen O'Connor.

In the past, scientists had suspected that being magnetic helps a bacterium find the oxygen concentrations it prefers more quickly by swimming only up and down in the earth's magnetic field rather than randomly in all directions. An analogy would be a blind-folded mountain climber searching for a specific altitude. If she only climbs straight up or down the mountain, she should find it more quickly. "But by observing how the bacteria moved away from oxygen that we added to their environment," reports Dr. McRae Smith, a member of the team while a postdoctoral researcher at NRL, "we directly measured how much magnetotaxis helps." NRL researcher Dr. Paul Sheehan adds, "by mathematically modeling their motion, we determined that being magnetic actually makes the bacteria much more sensitive to oxygen when in a magnetic field, so that they swim away from oxygen at much lower concentrations." It is as if the climber gets tired and turns around sooner when heading up the mountain, keeping her from heading too far in the wrong direction. And the stronger the magnetic field, the bigger the effect. The scientists do not yet know how the magnetic field has this affect on the bacteria, and are currently conducting additional experiments to help answer that question.

What was particularly interesting to the scientists was that the affect of being magnetic was too small for them to measure in the earth's natural, but weak, magnetic field. "Therefore," concludes Dr. Whitman, "the advantage to these bacteria in nature must be very small." "But over millions of years, this very subtle advantage has somehow produced bacterial magnetism."
'"/>

Source:Naval Research Laboratory


Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover way to make cells in the eye sensitive to light
2. Researchers find how protein allows insects to detect and respond to pheromones
3. Researchers Uncover Key Step In Manufacture of Memory Protein
4. Researchers reveal the infectious impact of salmon farms on wild salmon
5. Researchers identify target for cancer drugs
6. Researchers discover molecule that causes secondary stroke
7. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
8. Researchers trace evolution to relatively simple genetic changes
9. Researchers add new tool to tumor-treatment arsenal
10. UF Researchers Map Bacterial Proteins That Cause Tooth Loss
11. VCU Researchers Identify Networks Of Genes Responding To Alcohol In The Brain

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   Acuant ... and verification solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ... solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and ... products that add functional enhancements to existing ... corporations and venues with an automated ID ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that ... has secured the final acceptance by all three ... Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have ... installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems ... seamlessly log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. Hoffmann, former ... of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School effective June ... UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading classes and ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design company ... as one of the World Economic Forum,s Technology ... companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to manufacture ... the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. The ... Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for their ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences ... detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting ... cells (CTCs). The new test has already been ... in multiple cancer types. Over 230 ... damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers ... the most commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are ... to read it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung ...
Breaking Biology Technology: