Polar-opposite bacteria swim south in the north

By Christen Brownlee, 15:54 PM April 15, 2008

Some aquatic bacteria that orient themselves using Earth's magnetic field swim in the opposite direction from what researchers typically expect, calling into question a longstanding theory of what this navigational behavior accomplishes.

Such magnetotactic bacteria typically live between the high-oxygen surface and low-oxygen floor of ponds or sediments. Researchers have long proposed that the bacteria take advantage of Earth's geomagnetic field to hover in this preferred middle zone. Lab stu...

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