Magnetotactic bacteria from the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere offer medical uses.
ScienceDaily — Nevada, the "Silver State," is well-known for mining precious metals. But scientists Dennis Bazylinski and colleagues at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) do a different type of mining.
They sluice through every water body they can find, looking for new forms of microbial magnetism.
In a basin named Badwater on the edge of Death Valley National Park, Bazylinski and researcher Christopher Lefèvre hit pay dirt.
Lefèvre is with the French National Center of Scientific Research and University of Aix-Marseille II.
In a recent issue of the journal Science, Bazylinski, Lefèvre and others report that they identified, isolated and grew a new type of magnetic bacteria that could lead to novel biotech and nanotech uses.
Magnetotactic bacteria are simple, single-celled organisms that are found in almost all bodies of water.
As their name suggests, they orient and navigate along magnetic fields like miniature swimming compass needles.
This is due to the nano-sized crystals of the minerals magnetite or greigite they produce.
The presence of these magnetic crystals makes the bacteria and their internal crystals--called magnetosomes--useful in drug delivery and medical imaging.