Biotemplated synthesis of magnetic filaments
With the aim of creating one-dimensional magnetic nanostructures, we genetically engineered flagellar filaments produced by Salmonella bacteria to display iron- or magnetite-binding sites, and used the mutant filaments as templates for both nucleation and attachment of the magnetic iron oxide magnetite. Although nucleation from solution and attachment of nanoparticles to a pre-existing surface are two different processes, non-classical crystal nucleation pathways have been increasingly recognized in biological systems, and in many cases nucleation and particle attachment cannot be clearly distinguished. In this study we tested the magnetite-nucleating ability of four types of mutant flagella previously shown to be efficient binders of magnetite nanoparticles, and we used two other mutant flagella that were engineered to periodically display known iron-binding oligopeptides on their surfaces. All mutant filaments were demonstrated to be efficient as templates for the synthesis of one-dimensional magnetic nanostructures under ambient conditions. Both approaches resulted in similar final products, with randomly oriented magnetite nanoparticles partially covering the filamentous biological templates. In an external magnetic field, the viscosity of a suspension of the produced magnetic filaments showed a twofold increase relative to the control sample. The results of magnetic susceptibility measurements were also consistent with the magnetic nanoparticles occurring in linear structures. Our study demonstrates that biological templating can be used to produce one-dimensional magnetic nanostructures under benign conditions, and that modified flagellar filaments can be used for creating model systems in which crystal nucleation from solution can be experimentally studied.