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Working together: bacteria join forces to produce electricity

Bacterial cells use an impressive range of strategies to grow, develop and sustain themselves. Despite their tiny size, these specialized machines interact with one another in intricate ways.

In new research conducted at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Jonathan Badalamenti, César Torres and Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown explore the relationships of two important bacterial forms, demonstrating their ability to produce electricity by coordinating their metabolic activities.

In a pair of papers recently appearing in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, the group demonstrates that the light-sensitive green sulfur bacterium Chlorobium can act in tandem with Geobacter, an anode respiring bacterium. The result is a light-responsive form of electricity generation.

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