Magnetite (Fe3O4) and greigite (Fe3S4) crystals in multicellular magnetotactic prokaryotes

Ulysses Lins, Carolina Keim, Flávia Evans, Marcos Farina, P R Buseck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Magnetotactic bacteria produce iron oxides, iron sulfides or both in organelles called magnetosomes. Most of these bacteria are unicellular and biomineralize magnetite (Fe3O4). In contrast, multicellular magnetotactic prokaryotes (MMPs) consisting of several gram-negative cells have only been known to crystallize the magnetic iron sulfide greigite (Fe3S4). In this work, we describe MMPs that mineralize magnetite in bullet-shaped crystals. Another unusual aspect is that magnetite occurs either as the only crystals or together with greigite crystals. MMPs containing only greigite in the magnetosomes occur in the same environment. These findings show that morphology, ultrastructure, and behavior are the main characteristics of the MMPs, not the type of magnetic crystal biomineralized in the magnetosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Biomineralization
  • Greigite
  • MMP
  • Magnetite
  • Magnetosome
  • Magnetotactic bacteria
  • Magnetotactic multicellular organism
  • Many-celled magnetotactic prokaryote
  • Multicellular magnetotactic prokaryote

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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