Saturday, 14 February 2015

Creature 137: Geobacter

A bacteria that eats electricity for breakfast.

Geobacter is a genus of  soil dwelling bacteria first noticed in 1987. They are mostly known for their ability to eat electricity.

They can quite literally harness the energy of an electrical current and use it as metabolic energy. They can also transmit electricity to other individuals around them if they have an excess via tiny connections they can build between themselves.  Watch it happen here:

Electricity is not all they eat, they are capable of eating several different types of environmental pollutants such as oil and radioactive waste. They can even tear the oxygen out of rusty iron. The ability to consume and transfer electrical energy enables a group of these bacteria to break down mixtures of compounds which they could not possible manage to break down individually.  One bacteria can begin a chemical process that which results in an excess of electrons,  but these can be transferred to a neighbor who is specializing in a process which requires electron input. Allowing them to consume the mixture together.

The genus was first discovered in the sediment of the Potomac River in Washington D.C. but has been found at several locations since. They are probably cosmopolitan.

Bacterial classification is the reason they invented Wikipedia.
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Deltaproteobacteria
Order: Desulfuromonadales
Family: Geobacteraceae
Genus: Geobacter

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1 comment:

  1. Very Cosmopolitan