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Living Wires of the Ocean Floor

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In a recent post I shared with you how different microbes come together to breathe as one. In some cases, all it takes is the presence of conductive minerals such as magnetite to facilitate the exchange of metabolic electrons between two microbial partners. This allows the team to catalyze a redox reaction (for example, acetate oxidation coupled to nitrate reduction) that each organism could not have been able to achieve individually. The role of conductive minerals in such interspecies electron transfer is a good example of the diverse strategies that microorganisms have evolved to compete for the available electron acceptors, especially those with highest affinity for electrons (the most electropositive ones), as more energy is generated from the reactions.

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