Electronic Supporting Material from Elongated magnetite nanoparticle formation from a solid ferrous precursor in a magnetotactic bacterium

Magnetotactic bacteria are aquatic microorganisms that intracellularly mineralize ferrimagnetic nanoparticles enabling the cells to align with the geomagnetic field. The bacteria produce a magnetic mineral of species-specific phase (magnetite Fe(II)Fe(III)<sub>2</sub>O<sub>4</sub> or greigite Fe(II)Fe(III)<sub>2</sub>S<sub>4</sub>), size, morphology and particle assembly. Several species produce crystals of unusual elongated particle shapes, which break the symmetry of the thermodynamically favoured isometric morphology. Such morphologies are thought to affect domain size and orientation of the internal magnetization. Therefore, they are interesting study objects to develop new synthetic strategies for the morphological control of nanoparticles. We investigate the formation of such irregularly shaped nanomagnets in the species <i>Desulfovibrio magneticus</i> RS-1. In contrast to previously described organisms, this bacterium accumulates iron predominantly as Fe(II) rather than Fe(III) consistent with an alternative oxidative biomineralization route. Further, using high-resolution electron microscopy, we observe an epitaxial relationship between precursor and the final mineral phase supporting the notion of a solid-state transformation pathway. The precursor is likely a green rust previously thought to convert to magnetite only by dissolution and re-precipitation. Our findings represent a novel observation in the interconversion of iron (oxyhydr)oxide materials and suggest that solid-state growth processes could be required to produce irregularly shaped, elongated magnetite nanocrystals.