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E!Science: New ‘magnetic yeast’ marks step toward harnessing Nature’s magnetic capabilities

Researchers at the Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School have developed a method for inducing magnetic sensitivity in an organism that is not naturally magnetic — yeast. Their technology could potentially be used to magnetize a variety of different cell types in medical, industrial and research applications. The research findings appear in PLoS Biology.

Magnetic fields are everywhere, but few organisms can sense them. Those that do, such as birds and butterflies, use magnetic sensitivity as a kind of natural global positioning system to guide them along migratory routes. How these few magnetically aware organisms gain their magnetism remains one of biology’s unsolved mysteries.

Researchers Pamela Silver, Ph.D., and Keiji Nishida, Ph.D., were able to imbue yeast with similar properties. Silver, the principal investigator, is a founding core faculty member at the Wyss Institute and a professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Nishida is a research fellow in Systems Biology at HMS. “Magnetism in nature is a unique and mysterious biological function that very few living systems exploit,” said Silver. “So while magnetic yeast may not sound like a serious scientific breakthrough, it’s actually a highly significant first step toward harnessing this natural phenomenon and applying it to all sorts of important practical purposes.”…...Read More

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Posted by on Feb 29 2012. Filed under Current News, Science News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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