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What impact could bacteria with magnetoreception have had on human evolution?

The number of bacteria living within the body of the average healthy adult human are estimated to outnumber human cells 10 to 1.

It has been evidenced that some bacteria have magnetoreception - these are specifically associated with alpha, gamma, and deltaproteobacteria classes of proteobacteria phylum and nitrospirae phylum.

Proteobacteria are found in the intestinal traits of all vertebrates. α-proteobacteria represented the major bacterial component of the primate brain’s microbiome regardless of underlying immune status, (

What could have been the impact on human evolution and disease from such an association?

  • Da Way

    • 0
    Oct 23 2013: I'm not an expert but I believe if bacteria with magnetoreception played a significant role in human evolution, it would be found in abundence in the human body. If you look hard enough though, you can link anything to everything, so i'm sure one would be able to make a good case on it's role in immunity. Personally, I don't see it.
    I believe magnetoreception must have played a role in the bacteria themselves in terms of locating them and migrating them towards sources of nutrition or away from a threat at one point in time, hence the trait survived, and it may help explain the evolution of magnetic navigation in e.g. homing pidgeons, but further to that, i'm sceptical.
    • Oct 24 2013: I am not an expert either, but I am particularly interested in possible mechanisms which might lead to an interaction between magnetite and cryptochrome systems of magnetoreception, and perhaps bacteria could play a role in this. It may therefore be of interest that a recent research paper stated that "In mammals, biological rhythms of the intestinal epithelium and the associated mucosal immune system regulate such diverse processes as lipid trafficking and the immune response to pathogens. While these same processes are affected by the diverse resident microbiota, the extent to which these microbial communities control or are controlled by these rhythms has not been addressed. A recent study provides evidence that the presentation of three bacterial products (lipid A, peptidoglycan monomer, and blue light) is required for cyclic expression of a cryptochrome gene in the symbiotic organ. The finding that bacteria can directly influence the transcription of a gene encoding a protein implicated in the entrainment of circadian rhythms provides the first evidence for the role of bacterial symbionts in influencing, and perhaps driving, peripheral circadian oscillators in the host.