Electromicrobiology: the ecophysiology of phylogenetically diverse electroactive microorganisms

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2022 Jan;20(1):5-19. doi: 10.1038/s41579-021-00597-6. Epub 2021 Jul 27.


Electroactive microorganisms markedly affect many environments in which they establish outer-surface electrical contacts with other cells and minerals or reduce soluble extracellular redox-active molecules such as flavins and humic substances. A growing body of research emphasizes their broad phylogenetic diversity and shows that these microorganisms have key roles in multiple biogeochemical cycles, as well as the microbiome of the gut, anaerobic waste digesters and metal corrosion. Diverse bacteria and archaea have independently evolved cytochrome-based strategies for electron exchange between the outer cell surface and the cell interior, but cytochrome-free mechanisms are also prevalent. Electrically conductive protein filaments, soluble electron shuttles and non-biological conductive materials can substantially extend the electronic reach of microorganisms beyond the surface of the cell. The growing appreciation of the diversity of electroactive microorganisms and their unique electronic capabilities is leading to a broad range of applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / classification
  • Archaea / physiology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cytochromes
  • Electron Transport*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phylogeny*


  • Cytochromes