Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 464–473

Bacterial magnetosomes: microbiology, biomineralization and biotechnological applications

  • D. Schüler
  • R. B. Frankel

DOI: 10.1007/s002530051547

Cite this article as:
Schüler, D. & Frankel, R. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (1999) 52: 464. doi:10.1007/s002530051547


Magnetotactic bacteria orient and migrate along geomagnetic field lines. This ability is based on intracellular magnetic structures, the magnetosomes, which comprise nanometer-sized, membrane-bound crystals of the magnetic iron minerals magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4). Magnetosome formation is achieved by a mineralization process with biological control over the accumulation of iron and the deposition of the mineral particle with specific size and orientation within a membrane vesicle at specific locations in the cell. This review focuses on the current knowledge about magnetotactic bacteria and will outline aspects of the physiology and molecular biology of the biomineralization process. Potential biotechnological applications of magnetotactic bacteria and their magnetosomes as well as perspectives for further research are discussed.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Schüler
    • 1
  • R. B. Frankel
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie, 28 359 Bremen, Germany e-mail: Tel.: +49-421-20 28 746 Fax: +49-421-20 28 580DE
  2. 2.Department of Physics, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USAUS