Navigation Links
'Rock-breathing' bacteria could generate electricity and clean up oil spills

A discovery by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) could contribute to the development of systems that use domestic or agricultural waste to generate clean electricity.

Published today by the leading scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers have demonstrated for the first time the mechanism by which some bacteria survive by 'breathing rocks'.

The findings could be applied to help in the development of new microbe-based technologies such as fuel cells, or 'bio-batteries', powered by animal or human waste, and agents to clean up areas polluted by oil or uranium.

"This is an exciting advance in our understanding of bacterial processes in the Earth's sub-surfaces," said Prof David Richardson, of UEA's School of Biological Sciences, who is leading the project.

"It will also have important biotechnological impacts. There is potential for these rock-breathing bacteria to be used to clean-up environments contaminated with toxic organic pollutants such as oil or radioactive metals such as uranium. Use of these bacteria in microbial fuel-cells powered by sewerage or cow manure is also being explored."

The vast proportion of the world's habitable environments is populated by micro-organisms which, unlike humans, can survive without oxygen. Some of these micro-organisms are bacteria living deep in the Earth's subsurface and surviving by 'breathing rocks' especially minerals of iron.

Iron respiration is one of the most common respiratory processes in oxygen-free habitats and therefore has wide environmental significance.

Prof Richardson said: "We discovered that the bacteria can construct tiny biological wires that extend through the cell walls and allow the organism to directly contact, and conduct electrons to, a mineral. This means that the bacteria can release electrical charge from inside the cell into the mineral, much like the earth wire on a household plug."


Contact: Simon Dunford
University of East Anglia

Related biology technology :

1. Argonne Scientists Use Bacteria to Power Simple Machines
2. Broad-Spectrum Antibacterial Activity is the Most Important Driver of Antibiotic Selection for Nosocomial Pneumonia In Europe
3. EUCODIS Bioscience to Explore Novel Enzymatic Activities in Antarctic Bacteria Library From Bio Sidus
4. New biosensor can detect bacteria instantaneously
5. NovaBay(R) Presents Data Confirming Its Aganocide(R) Compounds Are Effective In Killing Bacteria That Have Developed Multidrug-Resistance
6. Making bacteria make useful proteins
7. Building better bone replacements with bacteria
8. Rib-X Pharmaceuticals Antibiotic Drug Discovery Platform Discovers Novel Compounds with Activity Against Key Multiple Drug Resistant Gram-negative Bacteria
9. Pioneering research succeeds in producing industrially vital chemical through engineered bacteria
10. Bacteria pack their own demise
11. SmartGenes Services for Faster, More Precise Identification of Bacteria and Fungi to be Used by The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... --> --> ... by Transparency Market Research, the global non-invasive prenatal testing ... 17.5% during the period between 2014 and 2022. The ... Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2014 ... to reach a valuation of US$2.38 bn by 2022. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial ... points for in-line sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media ... of retractable sensor housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... LOS ANGELES , Nov. 24, 2015 ... a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development and ... Marban , Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, is scheduled to ... December 1, 2015 at 10:50 a.m. EST, at The ... York City . . ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... Whitehouse Laboratories is pleased to announce that it has completed construction ... dedicated to basic USP 61, USP 62 and USP 51 testing specific to raw ... and micro testing performed by one supplier. Management has formally announced that ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:11/9/2015)... 09, 2015 ... the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market ... --> ) has announced the ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their ... ( ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:10/29/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that it has been ... one of only three finalists for a 2015 ... Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor Minnesota ... innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ eClinical ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph ... explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business ... The Internet of Healthy Things . ... smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, ... care delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):