Electron eating and house building bacteria could leave clues to life on other planets

Posted: July 29, 2014 by Andrew in Astrophysics, atmosphere, innovation
Tags: ,

imageThe New Scientist reports the discovery of many more electron eating bacteria.

Geobacter and Shewanella were the first, now a further eight have been identified.

Kenneth Nealson from the University of South California “electrons must flow in order for energy to be gained. This is why, when someone suffocates another person, they are dead within minutes. You have stopped the supply of oxygen, so the electrons can no longer flow”. Nealsons team have grown electric bacteria on battery electrodes. Bacteria can either “eat” electrons from the higher voltage, or “breathe” electrons to the lower voltage electrode

A team from Aarthus University in Denmark have discovered that thousands of bacteria form “daisy chains ” that carry electrons over several centimetres.

Read the article, including a short video here.

Phys.org has it’s own article on bacteria. Almost by accident Spanish scientists have discovered that Escherichia coli manipulate Sodium Chloride during crystallisation, to form complex 3D structures in which they are able to hibernate. This, they say, has implications for the detection of life on dry planets.

Star Trek saw this coming, in an episode called Home Soil.

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘Soon, the universal translator comes online by itself, saying “Ugly giant bags of mostly water!” Picard is confused, and Data indicates it is an accurate description of Human physiology; he points out that Humans are 90% water surrounded by a flexible container.’ Star Trek

    Someone like Spielberg needs to read about these electric bacteria 🙂

  2. steverichards1984 says:

    Is this as simple as, (from the article) get some mud from the sea bed, insert voltmeter probes and measure any voltage detected.

    switch to resistance measurement (which ‘injects’ a voltage) and measure the resistance.

    Have we not been doing this for hundreds of years? Volta, frogs legs, cathodic protection etc etc.

    When does ‘measuring the resistance’ of some lifeform become ‘eating electrons and breathing electrons’?

  3. steverichards1984 says: July 29, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    “Is this as simple as, (from the article) get some mud from the sea bed, insert voltmeter probes and measure any voltage detected. Switch to resistance measurement (which ‘injects’ a voltage) and measure the resistance. Have we not been doing this for hundreds of years? Volta, frogs legs, cathodic protection etc etc.”

    “When does ‘measuring the resistance’ of some lifeform become ‘eating electrons and breathing electrons’?”

    When the press and ‘blogs” can promote something new! Your questions are so last year. -grin-