Towards a Mechanism of Action of a Weak Magnetic Field on Bacterial Growth



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The effects of weak magnetic fields (WMFs) on bacteria have attracted considerable attention in magnetobiology. Recent studies have shown that exposure to WMFs alter bacterial behavior at cellular and molecular scales. Classical models of magnetobiological effects face difficulties due to a paradox in which the inherent thermal noise in biological systems is orders of magnitude larger than the WMF interaction. The plausibility of quantum theoretical models to describe these interactions is discussed. In this study, the effects of static and oscillatory magnetic fields on bacteria are investigated in vitro. E. coli cultures were suspended in tryptic soy broth and grown in their respective magnetic field configurations for three consecutive generations. The optical density (absorbance) of field-exposed and control cultures was measured as a function of time. Emphasis is placed on understanding the WMF effects on subsequent generations of bacteria and their adaptability to such conditions. Biological effects of the oscillating magnetic fields were sustained in the second generations of E. coli while the effects were absent in the third generation. Our results suggest that bacteria may have a means of adapting to perturbations of a WMF on the cellular environment, depending on the field characteristics.