These authors contributed equally to this work.
Multicellular photo-magnetotactic bacteria
Article first published online: 30 SEP 2010
© 2010 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Environmental Microbiology Reports
Volume 3, Issue 2, pages 233–238, April 2011
How to Cite
Shapiro, O. H., Hatzenpichler, R., Buckley, D. H., Zinder, S. H. and Orphan, V. J. (2011), Multicellular photo-magnetotactic bacteria. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 3: 233–238. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2010.00215.x
- Issue published online: 16 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 30 SEP 2010
- Received 1 February, 2010; accepted 17 August, 2010.
Multicellular magnetotactic bacteria (MMB) are unique microorganisms typically comprised of 10–40 bacterial cells arranged around a central acellular compartment. Their life cycle has no known unicellular stage and division occurs by separation of a single MMB aggregate into two identical offspring. In this study, South-seeking multicellular magnetotactic bacteria (ssMMB) were enriched from a New England salt marsh. When exposed to light, ssMMB reversed their magnetotactic behaviour to become North-seeking. The exposure time needed to generate the reversal response varied with light wavelength and intensity. Extensive exposure to light appeared to be lethal. This is the first report of a Northern hemisphere MMB displaying South-seeking behaviour and the first time a MMB is found to exhibit photo-magnetotaxis. We suggest that this mechanism enables ssMMB to optimize their location with regard to chemical gradients and light intensities, and propose a model to explain the peculiar balance between photo- and magnetotaxis.