Configuration of the magnetosome chain: a natural magnetic nanoarchitecture†
Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense is a microorganism with the ability to biomineralize magnetite nanoparticles, called magnetosomes, and arrange them into a chain that behaves like a magnetic compass. Rather than straight lines, magnetosome chains are slightly bent, as evidenced by electron cryotomography. Our experimental and theoretical results suggest that due to the competition between the magnetocrystalline and shape anisotropies, the effective magnetic moment of individual magnetosomes is tilted out of the  crystallographic easy axis of magnetite. This tilt does not affect the direction of the chain net magnetic moment, which remains along the  axis, but explains the arrangement of magnetosomes in helical-like shaped chains. Indeed, we demonstrate that the chain shape can be reproduced by considering an interplay between the magnetic dipolar interactions between magnetosomes, ruled by the orientation of the magnetosome magnetic moment, and a lipid/protein-based mechanism, modeled as an elastic recovery force exerted on the magnetosomes.