Mössbauer Spectroscopy of Iron Biomineralization Products in Magnetotactic Bacteria

  • Richard B. Frankel
  • Georgia C. Papaefthymiou
  • Richard P. Blakemore
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 5)


Mössbauer spectroscopy is a nuclear γ-ray resonance technique that has been extensively applied to the study of the electronic properties of iron in biological systems. The power of the technique lies in its sensitivity to the effects of the physical environment (nature and disposition of ligands, magnetic structure, etc.) on 57Fe nuclei. Moreover, it is sensitive only to 57Fe so it is not affected by other elements in the system, except as they affect the environment of the iron atoms. The technique allows discrimination of nonequivalent iron sites as opposed to magnetic susceptibility or magnetization measurements which lump together contributions from all’ the sources in the sample. As extensive reviews of Mössbauer spectroscopy are available (Greenwood and Gibb, 1971; Bancroft, 1973; Cohen, 1976, 1981) we will only give a brief introduction here, focusing on 57Fe. This will be followed by a review of spectroscopy of iron in biomineralization products, and of magnetic inclusions in magnetotactic bacteria.


Mossbauer Spectroscopy Iron Atom Isomer Shift Hyperfine Field Magnetic Hyperfine Field 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard B. Frankel
    • 1
  • Georgia C. Papaefthymiou
    • 1
  • Richard P. Blakemore
    • 2
  1. 1.Francis Bitter National Magnet LaboratoryMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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