October 16, 2023
In this thematic issue of Elements, we look into biomagnetism and the production of magnetic minerals by microorganisms. In popular culture, this may have supernatural connotations; however, in reality, there are many microscopic biological organisms possessing magnetic behaviour owing to their formation of magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) such as magnetite (Fe3O4), maghemite (γ-Fe2O3), and greigite (Fe3S4). We look broadly at the relationship between biogenic MNP formation and biomagnetism: focusing on the mechanisms responsible for these minerals by bacteria; seeking to address whether MNP hold clues to the evolution of life on Earth, and potentially beyond; investigating the contribution of biomagnetism to the biogeochemical cycling of iron; considering the potential application of MNP for industrial remediation; and probing the presence of MNP in multicellular prokaryotes and eukaryotic organisms.
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