Bugs bare their magnetic bits

2019-03-08 02:10:14

THE genetic code for tiny biological magnets called magnetosomes has been cracked. The granules are produced by oxygen-hating bacteria and help them navigate, using the Earth’s magnetic field, towards deep, oxygen-poor regions of the ocean. Tadashi Matsunaga at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan and his colleagues singled out the genes by comparing well-known magnetic bacteria to a distantly related magnetic species. By identifying genes common to all species, they pinpointed those used for making magnetosomes (Genome Research, DOI: 10.1101/gr.088906.108). The discovery may herald the production of synthetic nanomagnets,