Episode Summary

Some bacteria have the amazing ability to orient themselves using the earth’s magnetic field, due to the presence of an intracellular organelle called the magnetosome, which are estimated to have evolved 3 billion years ago.  

Dr. Arash Komeili is a Professor at the University of California Berkeley who studies bacterial magnetosomes. 

Dr. Komeili talks about how magnetotactic bacteria were discovered, how the earth’s magnetic field orients the bacteria in the aquatic environment, whether a Martian meteorite had bacterial magnetite in it, how bacterial magnetosomes can be exploited for targeting cancer cells, and whether bacterial magnetosomes could be used to generate energy.  

microTalk was pleased to be joined by Dr. Marvin Whiteley (Georgia Tech) when this podcast was recorded at the ASM Microbe 2019 conference in San Francisco, CA.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Randy Farmer, a businessman who comes down with an uncomfortable disease after a trip to Bangkok.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Arash Komeili, Ph.D. (University of California Berkeley)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Mylea Echazarreta (UTSA)
  • Marvin Whiteley, Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology)

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