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U-turn trajectories of magnetotactic cocci allow the study of the correlation between their magnetic moment, volume and velocity

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Abstract

Magnetotactic bacteria are microorganisms that present intracellular chains of magnetic nanoparticles, the magnetosome chain. A challenge in the study of magnetotactic bacteria is the measurement of the magnetic moment associated with the magnetosome chain. Several techniques have been used to estimate the average magnetic moment of a population of magnetotactic bacteria, and others permit the measurement of the magnetic moment of individual bacteria. The U-turn technique allows the measurement of the individual magnetic moment and other parameters associated with the movement and magnetotaxis, such as the velocity and the orientation angle of the trajectory relative to the applied magnetic field. The aim of the present paper is to use the U-turn technique in a population of uncultured magnetotactic cocci to measure the magnetic moment, the volume, orientation angle and velocity for the same individuals. Our results showed that the magnetic moment is distributed in a log-normal distribution, with a mean value of 8.2 × 10–15 Am2 and median of 5.4 × 10–15 Am2. An estimate of the average magnetic moment using the average value of the orientation cosine produces a value similar to the median of the distribution and to the average magnetic moment obtained using transmission electron microscopy. A strong positive correlation is observed between the magnetic moment and the volume. There is no correlation between the magnetic moment and the orientation cosine and between the magnetic moment and the velocity. Those null correlations can be explained by our current understanding of magnetotaxis.

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Acknowledgements

Cassia Picanço Conceição, Jayane Julia Pereira da Silva, Kaio José Monteiro São Paulo Aguiar and Marciano de Lima Medeiros thank the financial support for the 3er EAFEX (Escola Avançada de Física Experimental do CBPF) done in February 2018. We thank also the support of LABNANO-CBPF for SEM. F. Abreu acknowledges support from FAPERJ, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and thanks the microscopy facilities CENABIO-UFRJ and UniMicro-UFRJ.

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Correspondence to Daniel Acosta-Avalos.

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Supplementary Video 1: Uncultured magnetotactic cocci swimming under the effect of magnetic fields. They start to swim when the magnetic field inverts its direction. Observed the presence of bigger and smaller cocci in the same sample (AVI 4426 kb)

Supplementary Video 1: Uncultured magnetotactic cocci swimming under the effect of magnetic fields. They start to swim when the magnetic field inverts its direction. Observed the presence of bigger and smaller cocci in the same sample (AVI 4426 kb)

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Acosta-Avalos, D., de Figueiredo, A.C., Conceição, C.P. et al. U-turn trajectories of magnetotactic cocci allow the study of the correlation between their magnetic moment, volume and velocity. Eur Biophys J 48, 513–521 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00249-019-01375-2

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Keywords

  • Magnetotaxis
  • Magnetotactic bacteria
  • Magnetic moment
  • U-turn
  • Coccus
  • Bacterial velocity