PubMed | Institute of Biology Bucharest Bucharest and University of Leeds
Type: | Journal: Frontiers in microbiology | Year: 2014
Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) are considered the model species for the controlled biomineralization of magnetic Fe oxide (magnetite, Fe3O4) or Fe sulfide (greigite, Fe3S4) nanocrystals in living organisms. In MTB, magnetic minerals form as membrane-bound, single-magnetic domain crystals known as magnetosomes and the synthesis of magnetosomes by MTB is a highly controlled process at the genetic level. Magnetosome crystals reveal highest purity and highest quality magnetic properties and are therefore increasingly sought after as novel nanoparticulate biomaterials for industrial and medical applications. In addition, magnetofossils, have been used as both past terrestrial and potential Martian life biosignature. However, until recently, the general belief was that the morphology of mature magnetite crystals formed by MTB was largely unaffected by environmental conditions. Here we review a series of studies that showed how changes in environmental factors such as temperature, pH, external Fe concentration, external magnetic fields, static or dynamic fluid conditions, and nutrient availability or concentrations can all affect the biomineralization of magnetite magnetosomes in MTB. The resulting variations in magnetic nanocrystals characteristics can have consequence both for their commercial value but also for their use as indicators for ancient life. In this paper we will review the recent findings regarding the influence of variable chemical and physical environmental control factors on the synthesis of magnetosome by MTB, and address the role of MTB in the global biogeochemical cycling of iron.