Electrode-reducing microorganisms that harvest energy from marine sediments

Science. 2002 Jan 18;295(5554):483-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1066771.


Energy in the form of electricity can be harvested from marine sediments by placing a graphite electrode (the anode) in the anoxic zone and connecting it to a graphite cathode in the overlying aerobic water. We report a specific enrichment of microorganisms of the family Geobacteraceae on energy-harvesting anodes, and we show that these microorganisms can conserve energy to support their growth by oxidizing organic compounds with an electrode serving as the sole electron acceptor. This finding not only provides a method for extracting energy from organic matter, but also suggests a strategy for promoting the bioremediation of organic contaminants in subsurface environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Anthraquinones / pharmacology
  • Benzoates / metabolism
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Deltaproteobacteria / classification
  • Deltaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Deltaproteobacteria / growth & development
  • Deltaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Electricity*
  • Electrodes*
  • Electrons
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Seawater*
  • Sodium Acetate / metabolism


  • Anthraquinones
  • Benzoates
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Sodium Acetate