Growing Magnetotactic Bacteria of the Genus Magnetospirillum: Strains MSR-1, AMB-1 and MS-1
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Magnetotactic bacteria are Gram-negative, motile, mainly aquatic prokaryotes ubiquitous in freshwater and marine habitats. They are characterized by their ability to biomineralize magnetosomes, which are magnetic nanometer-sized crystals of magnetite (Fe3O4) or greigite (Fe3S4) surrounded by a lipid bilayer membrane, within their cytoplasm. For most known magnetotactic bacteria, magnetosomes are assembled in chains inside the cytoplasm, thereby conferring a permanent magnetic dipole moment to the cells and causing them to align passively with external magnetic fields. Because of these specific features, magnetotactic bacteria have a great potential for commercial and medical applications. However, most species are microaerophilic and have specific O2 concentration requirements, making them more difficult to grow routinely than many other bacteria such as Escherichia coli. Here we present detailed protocols for growing three of the most widely studied strains of magnetotactic bacteria, all belonging to the genus Magnetospirillum. These methods allow for precise control of the O2 concentration made available to the bacteria, in order to ensure that they grow normally and synthesize magnetosomes. Growing magnetotactic bacteria for further studies using these procedures does not require the experimentalist to be an expert in microbiology. The general methods presented in this article may also be used to isolate and culture other magnetotactic bacteria, although it is likely that growth media chemical composition will need to be modified.
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