Team:UNIK Copenhagen/Project


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Project Overview

Project Magneto

We call our project Magneto and ourselves Magnetos since we are exploring the special superpower of magnetotactic bacteria and its various possible future applications.

Magnetotactic bacteria are the stars of our project. They are known for their unique ability to orientate themselves in the Earth’s magnetic field, a property that they owe to specialized organelles called magnetosomes, which contain magnetic crystals of magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4). Magnetosomes are arranged in chains and act in concert as a compass needle by orienting the cell in the magnetic field. In general, bacteria from the northern hemisphere swim towards the North Pole, while bacteria found in the southern hemisphere tend to swim south.
The habit to swim towards their respective geographic pole can be exploited to obtain new isolates of magnetotactic bacteria from the environment by using a simple magnet. A strategy we are using for finding our own magnetotactic strain from the Copenhagen environment to study.
The magnetic properties of the magnetosome make them a nice tool whose possible applications are various and only limited by imagination. Magnetosomes differ greatly in size, depending on which bacterial strain they are coming from, and accordingly, their magnetic properties vary a lot and can match various needs. Additionally, the clean and uniform shape of the crystals produced by the bacteria is still unattained by chemically synthesizing nanocrystals.