Magnetite formation by a sulphate-reducing bacterium

Toshifumi Sakaguchi, J. Grant Burgess, Tadashi Matsunaga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Citations (Scopus)


BACTERIAL production of magnetite (Fe3O4)1 makes an important contribution to iron biomineralization and rcmanent magnetization of sediments2,3. Accurate magnetostratigraphy, reconstruction of the Earth's past magnetic-field behaviour and extraction of environmental information from the geomagnetic record depend on an understanding of the conditions under which bacterial magnetite is formed. In aquatic sediments, the process is thought to be restricted to a zone between the levels at which nitrate and iron reduction occur4. In sulphate-reducing habitats, deeper in the sediment, the presence of H2S reduces iron oxyhydroxides to iron sulphides5,6. Thus magnetite would not be expected to form under such reducing conditions5,7. We report here the isolation and pure culture of a dissimilatory sulphate-reducing bacterium, designated RS-1, which can synthesize intracellular magnetite particles. RS-1 is a freshwater anaerobe which is also capable of extracellular iron sulphide precipitation. This isolate illustrates the wider meta-bolic diversity of magnetic bacteria and suggests the presence of a novel mechanism of magnetic biomineralization. The discovery of such bacteria may also explain why large quantities of magnetite have been observed in sulphate-rich, oil-bearing, sedimentary deposits8-11. In addition, these results significantly enlarge the environments in which biogenic magnetite may be expected to occur and have important implications regarding the evolution of the ability to synthesize magnetite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-49
Number of pages3
Issue number6441
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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