Recent research has revealed that the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis is unique in that it can absorb and generate electricity. Scientists believe the strange bacteria feed on electricity and potentially generate electrical energy for fuel. In addition, the researchers write that the electricity-producing bacteria may be able to use energy from the wind or the sun collected to make fuel for vehicles.
"I thought this organism could feed on electricity," said Annette Rowe ., a microbiologist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio
Rowe and his team have identified which genes these microbes use to absorb electricity. Researchers already know that the Shewanella bacterium can move electrons back and forth across its cell walls. Meanwhile, electrons are negatively charged particles, their flow creates an electric current. On the other hand, researchers also don't know for sure how these strange bacteria can control electric currents.
"The pathway for getting electrons in and out of the cell is like a wire. This (process) allows current to flow from the inside out, reversing the flow," said Rowe.
According to him, when electrons enter the cell, the cell can use it to generate current or store energy for later use. Furthermore, he said that the electrons could later be used to make fuel. Meanwhile, Buz Barstow, a biological engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca New York has listed nearly 4,000 Shewanella bacteria genes including mutations or changes in genes. in the study of the electricity-eating bacteria, Rowe tested mutants for the gene that forms the cellular "wire" in Shewanella bacteria, from which within the cell a gene could be deleted. bacteria with the gene group deleted.
"It's very difficult to find the flow of electrons, or to track electrons," he added.
However, the researchers found a way to grow different bacterial mutations on thin metal-coated glass. Then they attached a wire to the bacteria, so that when an electric current was passed through the wire, the amount of bacteria that was absorbed or added could be measured. Shewanella to absorb electrons. Each gene tells the cell how to make a protein. Some of the proteins, the researchers say, pick up electrons and carry them into the cell, by sending signals inside the cell that guide the process or remove electrons.
Not only producing electricity, the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis seems to be able to produce biofuels or fuels that are different from fossil fuels. Rowe said Shewanella bacteria is one of the bacteria that produces electricity that can take carbon atoms from carbon dioxide. These bacteria can use the electrons they absorb to make other larger molecules that can be burned as biofuels.
"Knowing which genes drive bacteria to eat electrons could help scientists develop new biofuels," Rowe said.
He said it would be even better if the electrons absorbed by the bacteria came from wind or solar power, where biofuels could be produced without adding carbon dioxide. burn.