European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 319–326

Elastic stability of chains of magnetosomes in magnetotactic bacteria

  • Valeri P. Shcherbakov
  • M. Winklhofer
  • Marianne Hanzlik
  • Nikolai Petersen
ARTICLE

DOI: 10.1007/s002490050086

Cite this article as:
Shcherbakov, V., Winklhofer, M., Hanzlik, M. et al. Eur Biophys J (1997) 26: 319. doi:10.1007/s002490050086

Abstract

Electron micrographs of magnetotactic bacteria reveal that chains of magnetosomes are often bent. This is surprising inasmuch as straight chains are actually the most favourable arrangement for magnetonavigation achieving the maximum value of the bacterial net magnetic moment. In order to answer the question of what causes the chains to bend, we calculated the stability limit of straight magnetosome chains by taking into account elastic and magnetic forces. For several scenarios, the threshold values of external forces leading to elastic instability were computed. From our calculations and observations on freeze-dried cells, we conclude that, under normal conditions, magnetosome chains are straight or only slightly bent, whereas shrinkage during preparation may cause severe artifacts such as kinks or zig-zag structures in the chains.

Key words Bacteria Magnetotaxis TEM microscopy Lipid bilayers 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valeri P. Shcherbakov
    • 1
  • M. Winklhofer
    • 2
  • Marianne Hanzlik
    • 2
  • Nikolai Petersen
    • 2
  1. 1.Geophysical Observatory ``Borok'', Borok Yaroslavskaja oblast, Russia, 151742 (e-mail: valera@geophys.yaroslavl.su)RU
  2. 2.Institut für Allgemeine und Angewandte Geophysik, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Theresienstrasse 41, D-80333 München, Germany (Fax: 0049-89-2394 4205; e-mail: michael@alice.geophysik.uni-muenchen.de)DE

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