Researchers have long studied magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), aquatic microbes that have the ability to orientate themselves to magnetic fields. This unusual behaviour makes them a subject of interest for improving our understanding of biomagnetism, and potentially harnessing their abilities for future technologies, such as medical nanorobots. Neutrons have been used to explore the characteristics of this magnetism by probing the specialised parts of the cells that are involved.
MTBs exert their magnetic navigation skills using magnetosomes – membrane structures containing magnetic nanoparticles that the bacteria mineralise from their environment. The magnetosomes arrange in a chain that acts like a magnetic compass, allowing the bacteria to move toward the riverbeds they inhabit, using the Earth’s magnetic fields. These unusual nanoparticles have been examined with neutron beams to discover the underlying mechanisms that determine the arrangement and geometry of the chains.
An international collaboration of researchers from University of the Basque Countries, University of Cantabria and the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) have elucidated the precise structural configuration of the magnetosomes in the MTB strain Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. They carried out small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) on a colloid of MTB, a technique that allows them to see the magnetic microstructure of the organisms in detail in aqueous solution. The D33 instrument was employed because of its polarised neutron beam mode, which allowed the researchers to analyse both the structural components and magnetic arrangement – possible because neutrons will interact with both. Magnetic nanoparticles are central to many applications, ranging from biomedical diagnostics to data storage, and even hyperthermia cancer treatments, but the magnetic structures within and in between nanoparticles are challenging to probe directly. Neutron-spin resolved small-angle neutron scattering is one of the few tools that can be used to investigate nanoparticles.
Using SANS, the researchers have gained new insight into the structure of the magnetosome chain.
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain
News This Week
Coronavirus tests performed in labs are the gold standard for accuracy and antigen tests are a fast and inexpensive alternative. But backers of a third type of test, developed by a Nobel Prize winner [...]
COVID-19 is a severe infectious disease that has claimed >150,000 lives and infected millions in the United States thus far, especially the elderly population. Emerging evidence has shown the virus to cause hemorrhagic and immunologic [...]
Switzerland’s Covid-19 scientific taskforce chief says hospitals across the Alpine country could be swamped with new coronavirus cases in the next two or three weeks unless the situation improves. “We estimate that the capacity limit [...]
Scientists are to increase surveillance for new coronavirus mutations amid concerns that future strains of the virus could develop at least partial resistance to antibody treatments and Covid-19 vaccines. There is no evidence that the [...]
From the moment you turn off your morning alarm, to the time you hit the pillow, your life is full of surfaces. Swiping through your phone, opening doors, putting in your PIN – there are [...]
A new report suggests that lingering “brain fog” and other neurological symptoms after COVID -19 recovery may be due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an effect observed in past human coronavirus outbreaks such as SARS [...]
ClSARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, according to a new study by University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers. The finding may explain why nearly half of people who get COVID-19 [...]
Contrary to president Donald Trump’s repeated declarations, the coronavirus pandemic was not — and still isn’t — totally under control. That lie is central to “Totally Under Control,” the [...]
Summary: A new study suggests COVID-19 may deplete testosterone levels in males. Findings reveal as testosterone decreased, the severity of coronavirus increased. Men who died from coronavirus infection had significantly lower mean testosterone than those [...]
It is the question scientists around the world are trying to answer: how long can the coronavirus survive in the tiny aerosol particles we exhale? In a high-security lab near Bristol, entered through a series [...]
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, researchers are working overtime to develop vaccines and therapies to thwart SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease Many efforts focus on the coronavirus spike protein, which binds the [...]
A research team in Hungary pinched the coronavirus with a fine needle to measure how much force it could take before popping like a balloon. It did not. The native virion of Sars-CoV-2 – a [...]
Headaches, confusion and delirium experienced by some Covid-19 patients could be the result of the coronavirus directly invading the brain, according to a study published Wednesday. The research is still preliminary – but offers several [...]
By Boris M | Published in Coronavirus During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a lot of information about the virus and its effects on mental health. That’s because coronavirus and the social, financial and psychological [...]
A serious illness suffered by an Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trial participant was most likely “life-threatening”, a bioethics researcher says. But that doesn’t mean the clinical trials will be scrapped. AstraZeneca and Oxford University [...]