The Rules of Life Rethought: Latest Progress in Quantum Biology

A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737). This special issue belongs to the section "Biophysics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2024 | Viewed by 5773

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Physics and Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QL, UK
Interests: magnetoreception; quantum biology; spin dynamics; oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation; physical chemistry; electron-transfer

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Guest Editor
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Interests: quantum biology; quantum sensing; microscopy; quantum information; biological spin chemistry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Quantum biology is an emerging science of the 21st century developed on the premise that subtle quantum effects may decisively shape biological processes and functions in living systems. This assumption breaks with the traditional notion that biological systems are essentially classic, relying on the averaging of very large numbers of particles or events that annihilate quantum traits. Instead, life appears to utilize single particles obeying quantum laws to generate macroscopic consequences, whereby a quantum advantage is often anticipated.

The concept of quantum biology is astonishing, as typically quantum characteristics, such as wave-like motion, are only observed in systems that are both small and cold, rather than hot, wet, and noisy. This notion also implies that the traditional, i.e., classical, description of life processes, which has developed over the last century, is still incomplete and promises future technologies with which to enhance health and medicine.

Over the last decade, the field of quantum biology has been propelled by experimental and theoretical efforts that have led to remarkable discoveries at the interfaces of traditional disciplines. Non-trivial quantum effects are now considered central to diverse phenomena, such as photosynthesis, certain enzyme-catalyzed reactions, magnetoreception, and spin effects in biochemical reactions, to name but a few. While the idea of a quantum advantage was central to early developments, the field is now increasingly considered to encompass all biological phenomena for which the language of quantum mechanics provides the most natural description.

This Special Issue aims to explore and celebrate the diverse and emerging field of quantum biology from an interdisciplinary perspective, spanning the arc from behavioral biology to theoretical physics. Observational, experimental, and modelling studies that showcase the latest developments in the field are highly encouraged.

Dr. Daniel R. Kattnig
Dr. Clarice D. Aiello
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • quantum biology
  • non-trivial quantum effects in biology
  • quantum tunnelling
  • quantum coherence
  • photosynthesis
  • energy transport
  • magnetoreception
  • spin and magnetic field effects

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 6719 KiB  
Article
Activation of Cryptochrome 4 from Atlantic Herring
by Anders Frederiksen, Mandus Aldag, Ilia A. Solov’yov and Luca Gerhards
Biology 2024, 13(4), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology13040262 (registering DOI) - 15 Apr 2024
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Abstract
Marine fish migrate long distances up to hundreds or even thousands of kilometers for various reasons that include seasonal dependencies, feeding, or reproduction. The ability to perceive the geomagnetic field, called magnetoreception, is one of the many mechanisms allowing some fish to navigate [...] Read more.
Marine fish migrate long distances up to hundreds or even thousands of kilometers for various reasons that include seasonal dependencies, feeding, or reproduction. The ability to perceive the geomagnetic field, called magnetoreception, is one of the many mechanisms allowing some fish to navigate reliably in the aquatic realm. While it is believed that the photoreceptor protein cryptochrome 4 (Cry4) is the key component for the radical pair-based magnetoreception mechanism in night migratory songbirds, the Cry4 mechanism in fish is still largely unexplored. The present study aims to investigate properties of the fish Cry4 protein in order to understand the potential involvement in a radical pair-based magnetoreception. Specifically, a computationally reconstructed atomistic model of Cry4 from the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) was studied employing classical molecular dynamics (MD) and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods to investigate internal electron transfers and the radical pair formation. The QM/MM simulations reveal that electron transfers occur similarly to those found experimentally and computationally in Cry4 from European robin (Erithacus rubecula). It is therefore plausible that the investigated Atlantic herring Cry4 has the physical and chemical properties to form radical pairs that in turn could provide fish with a radical pair-based magnetic field compass sensor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Rules of Life Rethought: Latest Progress in Quantum Biology)
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Review

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54 pages, 5510 KiB  
Review
Hypomagnetic Conditions and Their Biological Action (Review)
by Ruslan M. Sarimov, Dmitriy A. Serov and Sergey V. Gudkov
Biology 2023, 12(12), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12121513 - 11 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1981
Abstract
The geomagnetic field plays an important role in the existence of life on Earth. The study of the biological effects of (hypomagnetic conditions) HMC is an important task in magnetobiology. The fundamental importance is expanding and clarifying knowledge about the mechanisms of magnetic [...] Read more.
The geomagnetic field plays an important role in the existence of life on Earth. The study of the biological effects of (hypomagnetic conditions) HMC is an important task in magnetobiology. The fundamental importance is expanding and clarifying knowledge about the mechanisms of magnetic field interaction with living systems. The applied significance is improving the training of astronauts for long-term space expeditions. This review describes the effects of HMC on animals and plants, manifested at the cellular and organismal levels. General information is given about the probable mechanisms of HMC and geomagnetic field action on living systems. The main experimental approaches are described. We attempted to systematize quantitative data from various studies and identify general dependencies of the magnetobiology effects’ value on HMC characteristics (induction, exposure duration) and the biological parameter under study. The most pronounced effects were found at the cellular level compared to the organismal level. Gene expression and protein activity appeared to be the most sensitive to HMC among the molecular cellular processes. The nervous system was found to be the most sensitive in the case of the organism level. The review may be of interest to biologists, physicians, physicists, and specialists in interdisciplinary fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Rules of Life Rethought: Latest Progress in Quantum Biology)
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89 pages, 8713 KiB  
Review
Biological Effects of Magnetic Storms and ELF Magnetic Fields
by Ruslan M. Sarimov, Dmitry A. Serov and Sergey V. Gudkov
Biology 2023, 12(12), 1506; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12121506 - 08 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2731
Abstract
Magnetic fields are a constant and essential part of our environment. The main components of ambient magnetic fields are the constant part of the geomagnetic field, its fluctuations caused by magnetic storms, and man-made magnetic fields. These fields refer to extremely-low-frequency (<1 kHz) [...] Read more.
Magnetic fields are a constant and essential part of our environment. The main components of ambient magnetic fields are the constant part of the geomagnetic field, its fluctuations caused by magnetic storms, and man-made magnetic fields. These fields refer to extremely-low-frequency (<1 kHz) magnetic fields (ELF-MFs). Since the 1980s, a huge amount of data has been accumulated on the biological effects of magnetic fields, in particular ELF-MFs. However, a unified picture of the patterns of action of magnetic fields has not been formed. Even though a unified mechanism has not yet been generally accepted, several theories have been proposed. In this review, we attempted to take a new approach to analyzing the quantitative data on the effects of ELF-MFs to identify new potential areas for research. This review provides general descriptions of the main effects of magnetic storms and anthropogenic fields on living organisms (molecular–cellular level and whole organism) and a brief description of the main mechanisms of magnetic field effects on living organisms. This review may be of interest to specialists in the fields of biology, physics, medicine, and other interdisciplinary areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Rules of Life Rethought: Latest Progress in Quantum Biology)
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