Dennis Bazylinski (Life Sciences) and a team of researchers recently published a research article titled "Measuring Spectroscopy and Magnetism of Extracted and Intracellular Magnetosomes Using Soft X-ray Ptychography" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Biomagnetism refers to phenomenon where living creatures, such as bacteria, algae, fish, and birds, can detect and use local magnetic fields to their advantage. The so-called magnetotactic bacteria are an ideal model for investigating biomagnetism. These organisms biomineralize membrane-bounded internal magnetic crystals (called magnetosomes), of either the magnetic minerals magnetite or greigite, that cause them to orient and swim along magnetic field lines. While many details of the biomineralization process are not well understood, it is clear that the process is under genetic control. Spectro-ptychography, which combines high spatial resolution and high sensitivity chemical speciation, is a new technique that offers a powerful probe for biomineralization studies. In this study, the use of spectro-ptychography demonstrated some new details regarding how magnetotactic bacteria biomineralize the mineral magnetite.
This is the first report examining magnetotactic bacteria and magnetosomes using this form of spectro-ptychography. It is important to understand how magnetotactic bacteria biomineralize magnetosome crystals because nano-sized magnetic crystals have proven useful in numerous medical, scientific, and commercial applications.