MAR 10, 2016 09:01 AM PST

How Magnetic Bacteria Work & Why Scientists Want These Magnets

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
4 4 1048

Nature is full of inspiration for scientists and engineers. Discovered by Richard P. Blakemore in 1975, magnetotactic bacteria are tiny microorganisms that have the capacity to convert iron into magenetite inside organelles called magnetosomes. Each of the magnetite crystal acts as a nano-magnet, and a chain of these act as a built-in compass for north and south detection. The bacteria use these internal compasses to move and align themselves in watery regions with optimal oxygen concentrations.

The perfectly uniform shape and size of the bacteria's magnetite crystals could be leveraged in science and medicine. Already, scientists are looking to adapt the magnetic crystals for targeted drug delivery of chemotherapies to cancer patients. The concept is to use the magnetite to control drug release, and locate drugs at specific targeted sites in order to minimize collateral damages to the healthy cells.

In addition to medical innovations, electronic systems that rely on magnet technology could also get a boost from the bacteria's magnetite products. Watch the video to learn more about how these bacteria may soon show up in pills and computer parts!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
New Details on The Iceman's Diet
Researchers can look at isotopes in hair and bone samples to see whether people were vegetarians or omnivores. They can also see investigate resides left i
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Rare Diseases That Changed Medicine
In the US, a disease is considered rare when it affects fewer than 200,000 people in the whole country. But, in Europe, a disease is considered rare when i
JUL 27, 2018
Videos
JUL 27, 2018
Ever Wonder Why the Moon Turns Red During A Lunar Eclipse?
Lunar eclipses can be fun to observe, but have you ever wondered why the Moon turns red during the event? As it turns out, this red Moon phenomenon, also k
JUL 30, 2018
Videos
JUL 30, 2018
Is it Good to Open Your Windows During a Hurricane?
You might’ve heard the idea that opening your windows during a hurricane can reduce the stress on your home’s roof and walls as it’s bein
JUL 31, 2018
Videos
JUL 31, 2018
Tired of Coffee? Try These Ideas for a Boost of Energy
A good strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning, at lunch, on a break or just about anytime can be a real boost. Not everyone likes coffee though, a
AUG 11, 2018
Videos
AUG 11, 2018
Hit The Sweet Spot - MIT's Image Awards
MIT researchers are trying to engineer a smarter insulin.
Loading Comments...