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Nanotechnology to rescue bacterial bidirectional extracellular electron transfer in bioelectrochemical systems

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RSC Advances

Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

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      Abstract

      Advanced nanostructured electrode materials largely improve the bacterial bidirectional extracellular electron transfer in bioelectrochemical systems.An electrically active bacterium transports its metabolically generated electrons to insoluble substrates such as electrodes via a process known as extracellular electron transport (EET). Bacterial EET is a crucial process in the geochemical cycling of metals, bioremediation and bioenergy devices such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Recently, it has been found that electroactive bacteria can reverse their respiratory pathways by accepting electrons from a negatively poised electrode to produce high-value chemicals such as ethanol in a process termed as microbial electrosynthesis (MES). A poor electrical connection between bacteria and the electrode hinders the EET and MES processes significantly. Also, the bidirectional EET process is sluggish and needs to be improved drastically to extend its practical applications. Several attempts have been undertaken to improve the bidirectional EET by employing various advanced nanostructured materials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene. This review covers the recent progress in the bacterial bidirectional EET processes using advanced nanostructures in the light of current understandings of bacteria–nanomaterial interactions.

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      Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces

      Microorganisms attach to surfaces and develop biofilms. Biofilm-associated cells can be differentiated from their suspended counterparts by generation of an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) matrix, reduced growth rates, and the up- and down- regulation of specific genes. Attachment is a complex process regulated by diverse characteristics of the growth medium, substratum, and cell surface. An established biofilm structure comprises microbial cells and EPS, has a defined architecture, and provides an optimal environment for the exchange of genetic material between cells. Cells may also communicate via quorum sensing, which may in turn affect biofilm processes such as detachment. Biofilms have great importance for public health because of their role in certain infectious diseases and importance in a variety of device-related infections. A greater understanding of biofilm processes should lead to novel, effective control strategies for biofilm control and a resulting improvement in patient management.
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        Biofilms as complex differentiated communities.

        Prokaryotic biofilms that predominate in a diverse range of ecosystems are often composed of highly structured multispecies communities. Within these communities metabolic activities are integrated, and developmental sequences, not unlike those of multicellular organisms, can be detected. These structural adaptations and interrelationships are made possible by the expression of sets of genes that result in phenotypes that differ profoundly from those of planktonically grown cells of the same species. Molecular and microscopic evidence suggest the existence of a succession of de facto biofilm phenotypes. We submit that complex cell-cell interactions within prokaryotic communities are an ancient characteristic, the development of which was facilitated by the localization of cells at surfaces. In addition to spatial localization, surfaces may have provided the protective niche in which attached cells could create a localized homeostatic environment. In a holistic sense both biofilm and planktonic phenotypes may be viewed as integrated components of prokaryote life.
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          Extracellular electron transfer via microbial nanowires.

          Microbes that can transfer electrons to extracellular electron acceptors, such as Fe(iii) oxides, are important in organic matter degradation and nutrient cycling in soils and sediments. Previous investigations on electron transfer to Fe(iii) have focused on the role of outer-membrane c-type cytochromes. However, some Fe(iii) reducers lack c-cytochromes. Geobacter species, which are the predominant Fe(iii) reducers in many environments, must directly contact Fe(iii) oxides to reduce them, and produce monolateral pili that were proposed, on the basis of the role of pili in other organisms, to aid in establishing contact with the Fe(iii) oxides. Here we report that a pilus-deficient mutant of Geobacter sulfurreducens could not reduce Fe(iii) oxides but could attach to them. Conducting-probe atomic force microscopy revealed that the pili were highly conductive. These results indicate that the pili of G. sulfurreducens might serve as biological nanowires, transferring electrons from the cell surface to the surface of Fe(iii) oxides. Electron transfer through pili indicates possibilities for other unique cell-surface and cell-cell interactions, and for bioengineering of novel conductive materials.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            RSCACL
            RSC Advances
            RSC Adv.
            Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
            2046-2069
            2016
            2016
            : 6
            : 36
            : 30582-30597
            10.1039/C6RA04734C
            © 2016
            Product
            Self URI (article page): http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=C6RA04734C

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