Stud.IP Uni Oldenburg
University of Oldenburg
24.05.2022 21:41:57

Personal details

Title Magnetically sensitive proteins in migratory birds

In our group, we want to understand how birds sense the earth’s magnetic field to navigate precisely over thousands of kilometers each year. The prevalent theory involves a light-dependent radical-pair process in the eyes of the birds and a protein called cryptochrome. By expressing and purifying Cryptochrome 4 from different bird species in E.coli and spectroscopic measurements from our collaborators in Oxford, we could recently show that Cryptochrome 4 is magnetically sensitive (Xu et al., 2021).

We routinely express and purify various mutant cryptochromes, and cryptochromes from different bird species, in order to understand the molecular mechanism better of how this fascinating sense operates and how it has evolved.

If you would like to learn basic protein biochemistry, we always have projects to express and purify new proteins, and generate mutants, which will then be measured for magnetic sensitivity.

 We are also interested in the signaling events that Cryptochrome 4 initiates in response to light and magnetic stimuli, as the signaling cascade is yet completely unknown. We use different biochemical assays (e.g. yeast two-hybrid, pulldowns) to find new interaction partners and to confirm the interaction. We are always looking for Bachelor- or Masterstudents that would like to take part in discovering how the magnetic signal is translated into finally triggering a change in membrane potential.

 If you want to learn more about what we do, visit our homepage ( or watch this youtube video about our latest research:


 Xu, J., Jarocha, L.E., Zollitsch, T., Konowalczyk, M., Henbest, K.B., Richert, S., Golesworthy, M.J., Schmidt, J., Dejean, V., Sowood, D.J.C., et al. (2021). Magnetic sensitivity of cryptochrome 4 from a migratory songbird. Nature 594, 535-540.

Home institution Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences
Type of work practical / application-focused
Type of thesis Bachelor's or Master's degree
Author Dr. rer. nat. Rabea Bartölke
Status available
Problem statement
Created 15/09/21

Study data

  • wiss. MitarbeiterIn
Degree programmes
  • Master's Programme Biology
  • Dual-Subject Bachelor's Programme Biology
  • Master's Programme Biology
  • Bachelor's Programme Biology
Assigned courses No courses assigned
Contact person