Structure, morphology and crystal growth of anisotropic magnetite crystals in magnetotactic bacteria

Stephen Mann, Nicholas Sparks, R.P. Blakemore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Bacterial magnetite particles of anisotropic morphology have been studied by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. Lattice images of individual crystals are consistent with a well-ordered magnetite cubic inverse spinel structure. The idealized morphology of the biogenic crystals is based on an elongated cubo-octahedral form comprising a hexagonal prism of {111} and {100} faces capped by (1̄1̄1) and (111̄) faces with associated {111} and {100} truncations. Analysis of many particles of diverse size suggests that crystal growth takes place in two stages. The first stage is associated with the formation of well-ordered, isotropic, single-domain crystals of cubo-octahedral morphology. In this stage the crystal length and width develop concurrently up to a size of 20 nm. The second stage involves the anisotropic growth of the isotropic particles along the [112̄] direction. A crystal growth mechanism is postulated which involves the specific nucleation of the (1̄1̄1) face on a surrounding organic membrane. Unidirectional growth then occurs by selective suppression of certain crystallographic axes through spatial and chemical constraints induced by the adjacent organic boundary.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)477-487
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1265
    Publication statusPrint publication - 22 Sept 1987


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