Environment Science

Scientists discover some bacteria get energy through electron transfer to inorganic minerals hundreds of cell-lengths away.

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>Bacteria, the planet’s oldest organisms, have been discovered to be able to transfer charged particles to a variety of acceptors, including some at great distances. For instance, we now know that some anaerobic bacteria gain energy through electron transfer to inorganic minerals, and even to synthetic surfaces, hundreds of cell-body lengths away.

Discoveries of microbial communities that transfer electrons between cells and across relatively long distances are launching a new field of microbiology. A new field of ‘electromicrobiology’ is gaining ground quickly.

> So how do they do it? This basic question lies at the heart of electromicrobiology, a new research discipline that seeks to understand the transmission of electrical signals between microbes. The emerging answers—which include startling molecular conductors built by bacteria and unique population architectures in which thousands of microbes act in concert as a multicellular unit—point to the interesting role that electron transport has played in the evolution of the planet and its inhabitants. Understanding how bacteria transmit those signals may also inform the development of technologies that extract power from these living systems, by transmitting signals from and to cells at hybrid living-synthetic interfaces.

[Source](http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/35299/title/Live-Wires/)

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“Scientists discover some bacteria get energy through electron transfer to inorganic minerals hundreds of cell-lengths away.”