Magnetite-based magnetoreception

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2001 Aug;11(4):462-7. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(00)00235-x.


Orientation, navigation, and homing are critical traits expressed by organisms ranging from bacteria through higher vertebrates. Sensory systems that aid such behavior have provided key selective advantages to these groups over the past 4 billion years, and are highly evolved; magnetoreception is no exception. Across many species and groups of organisms, compelling evidence exists that the physical basis of this response is tiny crystals of single-domain magnetite (Fe3O4). It is the opinion of the authors that all magnetic field sensitivity in living organisms, including elasmobranch fishes, is the result of a highly evolved, finely-tuned sensory system based on single-domain, ferromagnetic crystals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Biophysics / methods
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide
  • Iron / physiology*
  • Magnetics*
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • Oxides
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Oxides
  • Iron
  • Ferrosoferric Oxide