Sediment bacteria may link distant chemical reactions using nanowires to transport electrons.
"Bacteria lurking in sediment at the bottom of the sea are pulling off a clever trick — using an electric current to link together the chemical reactions of oxygen in water with those of sediment nutrients deeper down.
"Lars Peter Nielsen at Aarhus University in Denmark and his colleagues suggest…that a chain of bacteria work together to transport electrons from a marine sediment to the overlying water up to two centimetres away. The electrons are produced by reactions between organic matter and hydrogen sulphide in the sediment, and transported to the sediment surface where they react with oxygen.
"This means that throughout the entire system, the top layers of sediment 'breathe' for the whole, and those at the bottom 'eat' for the whole.
"The research helps to add weight to a suggestion within the geophysics and microbiology communities that bacteria can grow tiny 'wires' and hook up to form a biogeobattery — a giant natural battery that generates electrical currents." (Sanderson 2010)
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- Nielsen LP; Risgaard-Petersen N; Fossing H; Christensen PB; Sayama M. 2010. Electric currents couple spatially separated biogeochemical processes in marine sediment. Nature. 463: 1071-1074.
- Sanderson K. 2010. Bacteria buzzing in the seabed. Nature News [Internet],
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