Magnetotactic bacteria — curious group of microorganisms

We are happy to share our incredible review article about the diversity and application of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB). The scientists from Russia with the help of the SciBear team describe this unusual group of microorganisms which are capable of magneto-aerotaxis. MTB synthesize biominerals in organelle-like structures called magnetosomes, which contain single-domain crystals of magnetite or greigite characterized by a high degree of structural and compositional perfection. Genomes of many MTB species were sequenced, and genes controlling the magnetosome formation were found. These genes are organized in magnetosome genomic cluster and are responsible for the formation of the magnetosome membrane, transport of iron into magnetosomes, nucleation and growth of magnetite crystals, and the shape and size of the latter.

Magnetosomes from dead MTB could be preserved in sediments (called fossil magnetosomes or magnetofossils). Under certain conditions, magnetofossils are capable of retaining their remanence for millions of years. Studies of the diversity of MTB can help unravel the microbial activity of the early Earth.

At the same time, the high biocompatibility of magnetosomes makes possible their potential use in biomedical applications. A good example is magnetic resonance imaging. In this approach, MTB can be used to create bacterial or hybrid medical nanorobots that can controllably move through the human circulatory system. Another nice example is that magnetosomes with an artificially modified membrane are able to selectively bind to monoclonal antibodies and can be used for magnetic separation of cells. MTB could be used in magnetically guided drug delivery and tumor cell inhibition.

But the vast majority of known MTB are uncultivated.New methods such as reconstructing bacterial genomes from metagenomic data allow us to learn a lot about these curious microorganisms. SciBear team is always happy to help you make metagenomic and genomic analysis for your next breathtaking research!

Gareev, Kamil G., et al. "Magnetotactic Bacteria and Magnetosomes: Basic Properties and Applications." Magnetochemistry 7.6 (2021): 86.