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Front Microbiol. 2013 Nov 26;4:352. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00352.

The magnetosome model: insights into the mechanisms of bacterial biomineralization.

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Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California Berkeley Berkeley, CA, USA.


Though the most ready example of biomineralization is the calcium phosphate of vertebrate bones and teeth, many bacteria are capable of creating biominerals inside their cells. Because of the diversity of these organisms and the minerals they produce, their study may reveal aspects of the fundamental mechanisms of biomineralization in more complex organisms. The best-studied case of intracellular biomineralization in bacteria is the magnetosome, an organelle produced by a diverse group of aquatic bacteria that contains single-domain crystals of the iron oxide magnetite (Fe3O4) or the iron sulfide greigite (Fe3S4). Here, recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of bacterial magnetite biomineralization are discussed and used as a framework for understanding less-well studied examples, including the bacterial intracellular biomineralization of cadmium, selenium, silver, nickel, uranium, and calcium carbonate. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological formation of these minerals will have important implications for technologies such as the fabrication of nanomaterials and the bioremediation of toxic compounds.


bioremediation; cadmium sulfide; calcium carbonate; intracellular biomineralization; magnetite; magnetotactic bacteria; nanoparticles; selenium nanospheres

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