Where do you find them?

Researchers have found magnetotactic bacteria in Western Australia at the lakes of Rottnest, along the Swan River, in Lake Claremont, in the Peel-Harvey estuary and at Dunsborough. There are probably many more sites where they can be found- try some spots, and let us know! In our sampling, we looked for anaerobic (without oxygen) chemoautotrophic bacteria - that is, bacteria which use sulphides to obtain energy, but little or no oxygen. In fact, oxygen at its concentration in the air is toxic to the type of bacteria that we collect. These bacteria are best found in sulphurous sediment under salty, still water.

Sulphurous sediment tends to be black and have the bad "rotten-egg" smell associated with sulphur based compounds. The sediment tends to have a soft and slimey feel to it. It is thought that the bacteria we collect live in the topsoil of the sediment, near the water/soil boundary, and therefore the oxygen rich/ oxygen poor boundary. Other kinds of magnetotactic bacteria may live in other conditions, however the requirements of the chemoautotrophic anaerobic bacteria make them easier to find- you can use the soil and water characteristics as a guide.