SEMINAR: CMCA Seminar Series:
|CMCA Seminar Series: : The search for magnetosensitive cells in the pigeon Columbia livid
Many species on the planet, whether they be birds, fish or insects rely on the Earth's magnetic field to guide migration or assist navigation. This remarkable sense is known as magnetoreception. Dr David Keays of the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna will present his investigations into the magnetite based theory of magnetoreception, particularly in the pigeon Columbia livia.
This theory is a mechanosensitive model that relies on intracellular magnetite crystals (Fe3O4) and has sprung from observations made in magnetotactic bacteria. These aquatic bacteria use the Earth's magnetic field to direct swimming towards growth-favouring regions in natural waters. It has been discovered that magnetotatic bacteria possess organelles called magnetosomes. Magnetosomes consist of membrane-enclosed magnetite crystals that twist into alignment with the Earth's magnetic field - thereby directing bacterial movement.
The theory of magnetite based magnetoreception has been supported by the discovery of magnetite in a range of other organisms that detect and respond to magnetic fields; most notably birds, fish and bees. Dr Keays is currently investigating the genes and molecules that are required for magnetite based magnetoreception simultaneously employing behavioural, anatomical and genetic tools in the honeybee Apis mellifera and the rock pigeon Columbia livia.
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