An n-Type Conjugated Oligoelectrolyte Mimics Transmembrane Electron Transport Proteins for Enhanced Microbial Electrosynthesis

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2023 Aug 14;62(33):e202305189. doi: 10.1002/anie.202305189. Epub 2023 Jun 13.


Interfacing bacteria as biocatalysts with an electrode provides the basis for emerging bioelectrochemical systems that enable sustainable energy interconversion between electrical and chemical energy. Electron transfer rates at the abiotic-biotic interface are, however, often limited by poor electrical contacts and the intrinsically insulating cell membranes. Herein, we report the first example of an n-type redox-active conjugated oligoelectrolyte, namely COE-NDI, which spontaneously intercalates into cell membranes and mimics the function of endogenous transmembrane electron transport proteins. The incorporation of COE-NDI into Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 cells amplifies current uptake from the electrode by 4-fold, resulting in the enhanced bio-electroreduction of fumarate to succinate. Moreover, COE-NDI can serve as a "protein prosthetic" to rescue current uptake in non-electrogenic knockout mutants.

Keywords: Biocatalysis; Biohybrid; Conjugated Oligoelectrolyte; Energy Conversion; Microbial Electrosynthesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bioelectric Energy Sources* / microbiology
  • Electricity
  • Electrodes
  • Electron Transport / physiology
  • Electrons
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Shewanella* / metabolism


  • Membrane Transport Proteins