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March 2013

Engineering electron nanoconduits in living bacteria

Scientific Achievement

A few specialized bacteria contain electron transfer protein complexes – electron nanoconduits –  that allow them to reduce or oxidize an electrode. By exploring factors that control the synthesis of these electron nanoconduits, the model microbe Escherichia coli was engineered to deliver current to an electrode.


This work identifies conditions that allow for this electron transport system to be synthesized and function as electrical interface in non-native cell types. These cells can then interact directly with electronics, offering enormous potential for bioenergy, biosensing, and biocomputing applications.

Research Details

C.Goldbeck, H. Jensen, M. TerAvest, N. Beedle, Y. Appling, M. Hepler, G. Cambray, V. Mutalik, L. Angenent, C. Ajo-Franklin. ACS Synth. Biol., 2013, 2 (3), pp 150–159. DOI: 10.1021/sb300119v