MAR 10, 2016 09:01 AM PST

How Magnetic Bacteria Work & Why Scientists Want These Magnets

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
4 4 1047

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 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
Hazmat Spill at Johns Hopkins
Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill
JUL 22, 2018
Videos
JUL 22, 2018
How far can a single breath can go?
Longest distance swam underwater in one breath by a female using fins. Can you imagine being the Guinness World record-holder of that title? Marina Kazanko
JUL 24, 2018
Videos
JUL 24, 2018
A wave of plastic is washing over the DR
Footage from a video taken by “Parley for the Ocean” on July 14, 2018, shows an actual wave of plastic washing over the shores of Santo Domingo
AUG 06, 2018
Videos
AUG 06, 2018
Could You Be a Memory Champion?
Memorization is a useful tool to learn information that is straightforward and objective. School children memorize the multiplication tables, the alphabet,
AUG 09, 2018
Videos
AUG 09, 2018
History of Cannabis
The video above explains a brief overview on the history of cannabis and how the federal government, the states, and the general public have all made an im
AUG 11, 2018
Videos
AUG 11, 2018
How Is Sugar Extracted?
How is sugar extracted? Well, sugar is extracted from a root vegetable, the sugar beet. However, the whole extraction process is a precise procedure that i
Loading Comments...