Navigation Links
Living power cables discovered
Date:10/25/2012

A multinational research team has discovered filamentous bacteria that function as living power cables in order to transmit electrons thousands of cell lengths away.

The Desulfobulbus bacterial cells, which are only a few thousandths of a millimeter long each, are so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye. And yet, under the right circumstances, they form a multicellular filament that can transmit electrons across a distance as large as 1 centimeter as part of the filament's respiration and ingestion processes.

The discovery by scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark and USC will be published in Nature on October 24.

"To move electrons over these enormous distances in an entirely biological system would have been thought impossible," said Moh El-Naggar, assistant professor of physics at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and co-author of the Nature paper.

Aarhus scientists had discovered a seemingly inexplicable electric current on the sea floor years ago. The new experiments revealed that these currents are mediated by a hitherto unknown type of long, multicellular bacteria that act as living power cables

"Until we found the cables we imagined something cooperative where electrons were transported through external networks between different bacteria. It was indeed a surprise to realize, that it was all going on inside a single organism," said Lars Peter Nielsen of the Aarhus Department of Bioscience, and a corresponding author of the Nature paper.

The team studied bacteria living in marine sediments that power themselves by oxidizing hydrogen sulfide. Cells at the bottom live in a zone that is poor in oxygen but rich in hydrogen sulfide, and those at the top live in an area rich in oxygen but poor in hydrogen sulfide.

The solution? They form long chains that transport individual electrons from the bottom to the top, completing the chemical reaction and generating life-sustaining energy.

"You have feeder cells on one end and breather cells on the other, allowing the whole living cable to survive," El-Naggar said.

Aarhus and USC researchers collaborated to use physical techniques to evaluate the long-distance electron transfer in the filamentous bacteria. El-Naggar and his colleagues had previously used scanning-probe microscopy and nanofabrication methods to describe how bacteria use nanoscale structures called "bacterial nanowires" to transmit electrons many body lengths away from cells.

"I'm a physicist, so when I look at remarkable phenomena like this, I like to put it into a quantifiable process," El-Naggar said.

El-Naggar, who was just chosen as one of the Popular Science Brilliant 10 young scientists for his work in biological physics, said physicists are increasingly being tapped to tackle tough biological questions.

"This world is so fertile right now," he said. "It's just exploding."


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Protecting living fossil trees
2. Global Surgical Devices Market Growth Driven by Improving Standards of Living and Longer Life Expectancies, Research Shows
3. Molecular spectroscopy tracks living mammalian cells in real time as they differentiate
4. Nature: Microscope looks into cells of living fish
5. Living microprocessor tunes in to feedback
6. Photograph of a living human brain is the overall winner of Wellcome Image Awards 2012
7. Penn researchers improve living tissues with 3-D printed vascular networks made from sugar
8. Force of nature: Defining the mechanical mechanisms in living cells
9. A new look at proteins in living cells
10. Heart-powered pacemaker could one day eliminate battery-replacement surgery
11. MIT research: The power of being heard
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today ... one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the human ... first application of deep learning to create predictive models ... and a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen ... future publicly available resources created and shared by the ...
(Date:4/4/2017)...   EyeLock LLC , a leader of iris-based ... Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued U.S. Patent ... an iris image with a face image acquired in ... 45 th issued patent. "The ... the multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently come to ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... HONG KONG , March 30, 2017 ... developed a system for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground ... technology into a new realm of speed and accuracy for use ... applications at an affordable cost. ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... USA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ComplianceOnline’s ... take place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, CA. The Summit ... as well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials from around the ...
(Date:10/11/2017)...  VMS BioMarketing, a leading provider of patient support solutions, ... Educator (CNE) network, which will launch this week. The VMS ... care professionals to enhance the patient care experience by delivering ... health care professionals to help women who have been diagnosed ... ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Disappearing forests and increased emissions are ... 5.5 million people each year. Especially those living in larger cities are affected by ... in one of the most pollution-affected countries globally - decided to take action. , ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology ... drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription ... is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit ...
Breaking Biology Technology: