A New Type of Radical-Pair-Based Model for Magnetoreception

A. Marshall Stoneham, Erik M. Gauger, Kyriakos Porfyrakis, Simon C. Benjamin, Brendon W. Lovett

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

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Abstract

Certain migratory birds can sense the Earth's magnetic field. The nature of this process is not yet properly understood. Hereweoffer a simple explanation according to which birds literally see the local magnetic field through the impact of a physical rather than a chemical signature of the radical pair: a transient, long-lived electric dipole moment. Based on this premise, our picture can explain recent surprising experimental data indicating long lifetimes for the radical pair. Moreover, there is a clear evolutionary path toward this field-sensing mechanism: it is an enhancement of a weak effect that may be present in many species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-968
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical Journal
Volume102
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2012

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