The mechanism behind magnetoreception – the ability to sense magnetic fields for orientation and navigation – still remains one of the most difficult questions to answer in sensory biology, with fish being just one of many taxa known to possess this sense. Characterizing a magnetic sense in fish is crucial for understanding how they navigate their environment and can inform on how increasing anthropogenic sources of electromagnetic fields in aquatic environments may affect threatened fish species. This study examined the hypothesis put forth by Natan and Vortman (2017) that magnetotactic bacteria (MTB), bacteria that create their own chains of magnetic particles for navigational use, act in symbiosis with their animal host to convey magnetic information about their surroundings. Utilizing existing, publicly available datasets of raw genomic sequences, this study demonstrated the presence of MTB within a diverse array of fishes and identified differences in species diversity of MTB between freshwater and marine species of fish. Future research aimed at identifying MTB in specific fish tissues, such as the eye and other neural tissues, will be necessary to provide support for this hypothesis and to further examine the relationships that MTB may have with magnetically sensitive animals.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Boggs, Elizabeth, "Sensing Symbiosis: Investigating the Symbiotic Magnetic Sensing Hypothesis in Fish Using Genomics" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 837.