JCVI: Electrokinesis Is a Microbial Behavior That Requires Extracellular Electron Transport.
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Harris HW, El-Naggar MY, Bretschger O, Ward MJ, Romine MF, Obraztsova AY, Nealson KH

Electrokinesis Is a Microbial Behavior That Requires Extracellular Electron Transport.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2010 Jan 05; 107(1): 326-31.

External Citation


We report a previously undescribed bacterial behavior termed electrokinesis. This behavior was initially observed as a dramatic increase in cell swimming speed during reduction of solid MnO(2) particles by the dissimilatory metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. The same behavioral response was observed when cells were exposed to small positive applied potentials at the working electrode of a microelectrochemical cell and could be tuned by adjusting the potential on the working electrode. Electrokinesis was found to be different from both chemotaxis and galvanotaxis but was absent in mutants defective in electron transport to solid metal oxides. Using in situ video microscopy and cell tracking algorithms, we have quantified the response for different strains of Shewanella and shown that the response correlates with current-generating capacity in microbial fuel cells. The electrokinetic response was only exhibited by a subpopulation of cells closest to the MnO(2) particles or electrodes. In contrast, the addition of 1 mM 9,10-anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonic acid, a soluble electron shuttle, led to increases in motility in the entire population. Electrokinesis is defined as a behavioral response that requires functional extracellular electron transport and that is observed as an increase in cell swimming speeds and lengthened paths of motion that occur in the proximity of a redox active mineral surface or the working electrode of an electrochemical cell.

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