Microbial electrosynthesis: feeding microbes electricity to convert carbon dioxide and water to multicarbon extracellular organic compounds

mBio. 2010 May 25;1(2):e00103-10. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00103-10.


The possibility of providing the acetogenic microorganism Sporomusa ovata with electrons delivered directly to the cells with a graphite electrode for the reduction of carbon dioxide to organic compounds was investigated. Biofilms of S. ovata growing on graphite cathode surfaces consumed electrons with the reduction of carbon dioxide to acetate and small amounts of 2-oxobutyrate. Electrons appearing in these products accounted for over 85% of the electrons consumed. These results demonstrate that microbial production of multicarbon organic compounds from carbon dioxide and water with electricity as the energy source is feasible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bioelectric Energy Sources*
  • Carbon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Electricity
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Veillonellaceae / chemistry
  • Veillonellaceae / metabolism*
  • Water / chemistry
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Water
  • Carbon Dioxide