Magneto-tastic Microbe Monday!

It’s Microbe Monday!

Microbes are capable of many incredible things, including the ability to surprise us!

Today we’re taking a moment to look at a whole polyphyletic group of critters that attract more than just the attention of Microbiologists  – Magnetotactic bacteria!

As their name suggests, these microbes are responsive to magnetic fields, and will align with them just like the needle of a compass!

This is made possible by lots of little magnetic crystals (magnetite or greigite) that are produced by the bacteria and held in a chain of special structures called magnetosomes. This helps them get their bearings in the oxygen-starved sediments they call home.

When these creatures reach the end of their little lives, they may leave behind their magnetic crystals, still aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field. These remnants are called magnetofossils and can tell us about the orientation of the Earth’s field when the fossils were formed.

Who knows what surprises the microbes of Brothers Volcano may have in store for us?

Author:
Jessica Labonte
About:
I am an Assistant Professor in the department of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston. My research evolves around the study of virus-host interactions and how these impact the environment.
More articles by: Jessica Labonte