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Magnetic Microbe Genome Attracting Attention For Biotech Research

The smallest organisms to use a biological compass are magnetotactic bacteria, however mysteries remain about exactly how these bacteria create their cellular magnets. In a study published online in Genome Research, scientists have used genome sequencing to unlock new secrets about these magnetic microbes that could accelerate biotechnology and nanotechnology research.

Oxygen is essential for human life, but it is corrosive and poisonous to many bacteria. Magnetotactic bacteria evolved a clever method of using the Earth's magnetic field to orient itself and swim downward – exactly the direction a microbe must move to locate low oxygen areas in lakes and oceans. To find the direction of the magnetic field, these bacteria synthesize nanoscale cellular structures called magnetosomes that contain crystals of naturally occurring magnetic minerals.
 
 

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