Bacteria Build Cooperative Electric Grids to Share Power
Most organisms internally generate energy by coupling the addition of electrons to one molecule with their removal from another. But some microbes find themselves in circumstances where they must cooperate to generate the energy for life, swapping molecules or electrons with other species. Do these microbes enhance their energy management, and thus their ability to grow, by shuttling electrons back and forth to one another through conductive materials in their environment? Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 4 suggests the answer is yes; some bacteria do indeed build electricity-conducting grids in the wild.
“Microbes use conductive minerals as electric wires for transferring electrons between each other,” says microbiologist Kazuya Watanabe of the Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, part of the team that performed the research. This marks the first time anyone has provided “solid evidence” that different species transfer electrons to each other in that way, he adds.
(via How Microbes Can Build Electric Grids: Scientific American)