Some bacteria can already do it—generate electric current, that is—and those microbes are called “electrogenic.” Now, thanks to the work of a research group from the University of California, Santa Barbara, we know how to easily turn non-electrogenic bacteria into electricity producers.

One important key to their success was the bacteria they chose—Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. This organism uses current-conducting proteins in their cell membranes to breathe in metal minerals instead of air.

Unlike previous efforts that involved genetically altering the bacteria, this new method simply… more


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