Speaker: Dr. Can Xie, Peking University, China
Title: A Moving Landscape of Animal Magnetoreception: How Do Animals Sense the Earth’s Magnetic Field?
My talk will cover the current research progresses of our lab on animal magentoreception. The notion that animals can detect the Earth’s magnetic field was once ridiculed, but is now well-established fact. However, the nature of this enigmatic sense has remained a fascinating and unresolved biological mystery. Previously, we identified a magnetic receptor (MagR) in animals and a rod-like protein complex magnetosensor. The magnetosensor system is a nano-scale biological compass consisting of photoreceptor Cryptochromes and magnetoreceptors, and has intrinsic magnetic polarity in alignment with magnetic fields, including the Earth’s geomagnetic field. However, questions remain: What is the origin of magnetic moments of MagR? How the light- and magneto- perceptions are coupled in our Biocompass theory? How the signals from geomagnetic field is perceived with MagR and converted to neural signals? Do animals have ‘Molecular gyroscope’ and ‘Quantum gyroscope’ to guide their navigation? And how to apply magnetic fields to modulate biological processes based on MagR? We may find answers to these biological mysteries from interdisciplinary studies. We believe the answer to these questions will provide us a unique vision to explore the interface between biological world and physical world at molecular level.
Professor Can Xie is a Principal Investigator at School of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing Computational Science Research Center. Dr. Xie’s lab seeks to understand how biological species perceive and interact with the physical world. Working at the interface between biological world and physical world, our lab mainly pursue research in two major areas: (I) The molecular mechanism of animal magnetoreception, migration and navigation; (II) Structural color, dynamic color change and bio-invisibility. System as complicated as a living organism nevertheless follows the basic physical principles. Therefore, studying biological organisms with interdisciplinary techniques and perspectives, as what is going on in our lab, provides a unique angle to reveal the essence of physical phenomenon.