Surprise, some bacteria eat electricity. Now the process, in one type of bacteria at least, is understood at a molecular level. Given human ingenuity, will we learn to incorporate this trick and one day be able to plug in instead of eating a meal?
“We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter… The discovery of electric bacteria shows that some very basic forms of life can do away with sugary middlemen and handle the energy in its purest form – electrons, harvested from the surface of minerals. “It is truly foreign, you know,” says Nealson. “In a sense, alien.” – NewSci
“Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1 builds a conduit to accept electrons across its outer membrane. The bacteria relies on an iron-containing helper molecule called a deca-heme cytochrome c. By processing this protein, TIE-1 can form an essential bridge to its electron source. Extracellular electron uptake, or EEU, can help microbes to survive under nutrient-scarce conditions.” – SciDaily, Astrobiology
“Still, it gets weirder. One of Nealson’s graduate students, Annette Rowe, has found six new bacterial strains dredged from the ocean floor that don’t need a source of carbon at all, reports Powell. They can live off of electricity alone.” – Smithsonian
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