Published: Dennis Bazylinski

Dennis Bazylinski (Life Sciences) and a team of international researchers recently published a research article titled “Origin of Microbial Biomineralization and Magnetotaxis During the Archean” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows magnetic navigation by swimming bacteria may be more ancient than previously thought. Bazylinski’s research team shows genomic evidence that magnetotaxis, the production of magnetosomes (intracellular magnetic crystals in certain bacteria) and the subsequent use of the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation, likely evolved in the Archean (a geologic era 4 to 2.5 billion years ago). It is during this period the Earth’s crust cooled and the continents formed, and before there was significant oxygen gas in the atmosphere — far earlier than previously thought. The team’s finding, the first that show data to support the conclusions, also suggest that magnetotactic bacteria may have been the first organisms to utilize the Earth’s geomagnetic field for navigation, but they may have also been the first biomineralizing organisms on Earth.

 

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