BIO Web of Conferences
Volume 6, 2016Electro-Activity of Biological Systems
|Number of page(s)||1|
|Section||Cells, networks, biofilms, tissues & organs|
|Published online||22 March 2016|
Electromicrobiology: Electron Transfer via Biowires in Nature and Practical Applications
Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9298, USA
a Corresponding author: email@example.com
One of the most exciting developments in the field of electromicrobiology has been the discovery of electrically conductive pili (e-pili) in Geobacter species that transport electrons with a metallic-like mechanism. The e-pili are essential for extracellular electron transport to Fe(III) oxides and longrange electron transport through the conductive biofilms that form on the anodes of microbial fuel cells. The e-pili also facilitate direct interspecies electron transfer between Geobacter and Methanosaeta or Methanosarcina species. Metatranscriptomic studies have demonstrated that Geobacter/Methanosaeta DIET is an important process in anaerobic digesters converting brewery wastes to methane. Increasing e-pili expression through genetic modification of regulatory systems or adaptive evolution yields strains with enhanced rates of extracellular electron transfer. Measurement of the conductivity of individual e-pili has demonstrated that they have conductivities higher than those of a number of synthetic conducting organic polymers. Multiple lines of evidence have demonstrated that aromatic amino acids play an important role in the electron transport along e-pili, suggesting opportunities to tune e-pili conductivity via genetic manipulation of the amino acid composition of e-pili. It is expected that e-pili will be harnessed to improve microbe-electrode processes such as microbial electrosynthesis and for the development of novel biosensors. Also, e-pili show promise as a sustainable ‘green’ replacement for electronic materials that contain toxic components and/or are produced with harsh chemicals.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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