Electrotrophy: Other microbial species, iron, and electrodes as electron donors for microbial respirations

Bioresour Technol. 2022 Feb:345:126553. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2021.126553. Epub 2021 Dec 11.


Electrotrophy, the growth of microbes on extracellular electron donors, drives important biogeochemical cycles and has practical applications. Studies of Fe(II)-based electrotrophy have provided foundational cytochrome-based mechanistic models for electron transport into cells. Direct electron uptake from other microbial species, Fe(0), or cathodes is of intense interest due to its potential roles in the production and anaerobic oxidation of methane, corrosion, and bioelectrochemical technologies. Other cells or Fe(0) can serve as the sole electron donor supporting the growth of several Geobacter and methanogen strains that are unable to use H2 as an electron donor, providing strong evidence for electrotrophy. Additional evidence for electrotrophy in Geobacter strains and Methanosarcina acetivorans is a requirement for outer-surface c-type cytochromes. However, in most instances claims for electrotrophy in anaerobes are based on indirect inference and the possibility that H2 is actually the electron donor supporting growth has not been rigorously excluded.

Keywords: Direct interspecies electron transfer; Electromicrobiology; Electrotroph; Microbial corrosion; Microbial electrosynthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electrodes
  • Electron Transport
  • Electrons
  • Geobacter*
  • Iron*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Soil Microbiology


  • Iron