Filamentous Bacteria Transport Electrons Over Centimetre Distances

Nature. 2012 Nov 8;491(7423):218-21. doi: 10.1038/nature11586. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Abstract

Oxygen consumption in marine sediments is often coupled to the oxidation of sulphide generated by degradation of organic matter in deeper, oxygen-free layers. Geochemical observations have shown that this coupling can be mediated by electric currents carried by unidentified electron transporters across centimetre-wide zones. Here we present evidence that the native conductors are long, filamentous bacteria. They abounded in sediment zones with electric currents and along their length they contained strings with distinct properties in accordance with a function as electron transporters. Living, electrical cables add a new dimension to the understanding of interactions in nature and may find use in technology development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aquatic Organisms / cytology
  • Aquatic Organisms / metabolism
  • Aquatic Organisms / ultrastructure
  • Deltaproteobacteria / cytology
  • Deltaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Deltaproteobacteria / ultrastructure
  • Denmark
  • Electric Conductivity*
  • Electron Transport
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology
  • Glass
  • Microspheres
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Typing
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Porosity
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sulfides / metabolism

Substances

  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Sulfides
  • Oxygen

Associated data

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