Molecular mechanism of magnet formation in bacteria

Tadashi Matsunaga*, Toshifumi Sakaguchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic bacteria have an ability to synthesize intracellular ferromagnetic crystalline particles consisting of magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4) which occur within a specific size range (50-100 nm). Bacterial magnetic particles (BMPs) can be distinguished by the regular morphology and the presence of an thin organic membrane enveloping crystals from abiologically formed magnetite. The particle is the smallest magnetic crystal that has a regular morphology within the single domain size. Therefore, BMPs have an unfathomable amount of potential value for various technological applications not only scientific interests. However, the molecular and genetic mechanism of magnetite biomineralization is hardly understood although iron oxide formation occurs widely in many higher animals as well as microorganisms. In order to elucidate the molecular and genetic mechanisms of magnetite biomineralization, a magnetic bacterium Magnetospirillum sp. AMB-1, for which gene transfer and transposon mutagenesis techniques had been recently developed, has been used as a model organism. Several findings and information on the BMPs formation process have been obtained within this decade by means of studies with this model organism and its related one. Biomineralization mechanism and potential availability in biotechnology of bacterial magnets have been elucidated through molecular and genetic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial magnetic particles (BMPs)
  • Biomineralization
  • Genetic analysis
  • Magnetic bacteria
  • Magnetite formation
  • Molecular display

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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