North-seeking magnetotactic gammaproteobacteria in the Southern Hemisphere

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Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) comprise a phylogenetically diverse group of prokaryotes capable of orienting and navigating along magnetic field lines. Under oxic conditions, MTB in natural environments in the Northern Hemisphere generally display north-seeking (NS) polarity, swimming parallel to the Earth's magnetic field lines, while those in the Southern Hemisphere generally swim antiparallel to magnetic field lines (south-seeking [SS] polarity). Here, we report a population of an uncultured, monotrichously flagellated, and vibrioid MTB collected from a brackish lagoon in Brazil in the Southern Hemisphere that consistently exhibits NS polarity. Cells of this organism were mainly located below the oxic-anoxic interface (OAI), suggesting it is capable of some type of anaerobic metabolism. Magnetosome crystalline habit and composition were consistent with elongated prismatic magnetite (Fe3O4) particles. Phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing indicated that this organism belongs to a distinct clade of the Gammaproteobacteria class. The presence of NS MTB in the Southern Hemisphere and the previously reported finding of SS MTB in the Northern Hemisphere reinforce the idea that magnetotaxis is more complex than we currently understand and may be modulated by factors other than O2 concentration and redox gradients in sediments and water columns. © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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