Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum

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Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum
Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum

Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum

Department: Proteobacteria
Class: Alphaproteobacteria
Order: Rhodospirillales
Family: Rhodospirillaceae
Genre: Magnetospirillum
Art: Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum
Scientific name
Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum
(Maratea & Blakemore 1981) Schleifer et al. 1992

Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum is a gram-negative, microaerophilic, spiral-shaped, flagellum-motile bacterium capable of aerotaxis, discovered by R. P. Blakemore in 1975. It occurs in the sediment layer of oxygen-deficient waters. The species is originally described with a different name(Aquaspirillum magnetotacticum) in 1981,[1] reassigned to the newly proposed genus Magnetospirillum in 1991..[2] and confirmed in 1992 with the new name Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum [3] was confirmed. The renaming was due to the similarity to Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense.

The most remarkable property of M. magnetotacticum is its ability to magnetotaxis. For this purpose, the bacterium has its own organelles in the cytoplasm, the magnetosomes, which consist of magnetite chains.

Similar magnetite chains were found by NASA researchers in 1996 in the Martian meteorite ALH 84001, which they considered an indication of the possible existence of life on this planet. So far, however, no evidence of life on Mars has been found.


  • C. P. McKay, E.I. Friedmann, R. B. Frankel, D. A. Bazylinski (2003), “Magnetotactic bacteria on Earth and on Mars.”, in Astrobiology. 2003 Summer; 3(2): 263-70.
  • Blakemore, R. P. (1975): Magnetotactic bacteria. Science 190: 77-379
  • Blakemore, R. P. (1982): Magnetotactic bacteria. Annu Rev Microbiol 36:217-238
  • Blakemore, R. P., Frankel, R. B. (1981): Magnetic navigation in bacteria. Sci Amer 245:42-49
  • Shih-Bin Robin Chang & Joseph Lynn Kirschvink (1989): MAGNETOFOSSILS , THE MAGNETIZATION OF SEDIMENTS, AND THE EVOLUTION OF MAGNETITE BIOMINERALIZATION. Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 1989. 17:169-95


Individual references

  1. D. MARATEA, R. P. BLAKEMORE: Aquaspirillum magnetotacticum sp. nov., a Magnetic Spirillum. In: International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology. 31, 1981, p. 452, doi :10.1099/00207713-31-4-452.
  2. K. H. Schleifer, D. Schüler, S. Spring, M. Weizenegger, R. Amann, W. Ludwig, M. Köhler: The genus Magnetospirillum gen. nov. Description of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense sp. nov. and Transfer of Aquaspirillum magnetotacticum to Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum comb. nov. In: Systematic and Applied Microbiology. Vol. 14, No. 4, October 1991, pp. 379-385 . doi:10.1016/S0723-2020(11)80313-9.
  3. IUMS: Validation of the publication of new names and new combinations previously effectively published outside the IJSB. List No. 40. in: International journal of systematic bacteriology. Volume 42, Number 1, January 1992, pp. 191-192, doi :10.1099/00207713-42-1-191, PMID 1736967.