Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 111, Issue 11, pp 2213–2223 | Cite as

Association of magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes with Pseudoalteromonas species in a natural lagoon environment

  • Pedro Leão
  • Frederico J. Gueiros-Filho
  • Dennis A. Bazylinski
  • Ulysses Lins
  • Fernanda AbreuEmail author
Original Paper


Magnetotactic bacteria, for the most part, are free-living, motile, unicellular prokaryotes that inhabit almost all marine and freshwater environments. One notable exception to the unicellular mode, however, are the magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes. These morphologically unique prokaryotes (e.g., Candidatus Magnetoglobus multicellularis) are motile aggregates of 20–40 genetically identical, Gram-negative cells organised as a sphere (or ovoid in shape) and only motile as a unit. No specific close physical association between magnetotactic bacteria and non-magnetotactic microorganisms has ever been reported. Here, using culture-independent approaches, we show an unusual association between the spherical magnetotactic multicellular prokaryote Ca. Magnetoglobus multicellularis and Pseudoalteromonas species in environmental sediment and water samples collected from the Araruama Lagoon in Brazil. Cells of Pseudoalteromonas species were observed to be physically attached to the surface and, notably, even in the intercellular space of these spherical magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes. An attempt to correlate the frequency of association between Pseudoalteromonas and magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes with sediment depth was made but only a slight decrease in the number of Pseudoalteromonas cells per magnetotactic multicellular prokaryote was observed with increasing depth. Similar observations were made with magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes from another Brazilian Lagoon (Rodrigo de Freitas) and the putative symbiont/parasite was detected. Although our results suggest some sort of specificity in the relationship between these prokaryotes, the precise nature of this association remains unclear.


Microbial association Magnetotactic bacteria Magnetosome Magnetotaxis Magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes 



We acknowledge financial support from the Brazilian agencies Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) agencies. D.A.B. is supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant EAR-1423939. Microscopy Facilities: Unidade de Microscopia Multiusuário Souto-Padrón & Lins (UniMicro, UFRJ) and Centro Nacional de Biologia Estrutural e Bioimagem (CENABIO, UFRJ).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10482_2018_1113_MOESM1_ESM.docx (781 kb)
Figure S1 Scanning electron microscopy of multicellular magnetotactic prokaryotes from Araruama and Rodrigo de Freitas lagoons, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Microbiologia Paulo de GóesUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesUniversity of Nevada at Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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