A new study by American, British and Israeli biologists, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, may help answer the question of why some animals have a sixth sense that attracts them like a magnet to certain places.
As, for example, in the case of sea turtles returning to the beach where they were born, or birds, fish, lobsters, which also have a "magnetic" feeling. This question still remains unresolved, despite 50 years of active research.
The hypothesis of the authors of the new article is that the "magnetic" feeling arises from a symbiotic relationship with magnetotactic bacteria - a special type of bacteria whose movement is influenced by magnetic fields, including the Earth.
During the study, scientists analyzed one of the largest genetic databases of microbes and found that magnetotactic bacteria are associated with animals such as penguins, sea turtles, bats and whales, for example, Candidatus Magnetobacterium bavaricum was regularly found in penguins and loggerhead sea turtles. while Magnetospirillum and Magnetococcus are found in brown bats and right whales.
Researchers don't know where in the animal's body to look for magnetotactic bacteria, but it is possible that they are associated with nerve tissue, such as the eyes or the brain.