Electric bacteria! Researchers find a gut bacteria that can generate electricity!
We already know that the gut microbiome has profound effects on our general health and all the different species have different ways of influencing the body. The latest in gut bacteria news comes from a research team at UC Berkeley that has found a species of gut bacteria that can generate electricity.
While electric bacteria are not a new discovery, this is the first time they have been found in the human body. Typically the electric bacteria make themselves at home in lakes, soil, hydrothermic vents and in highly acidic environments. They have even been used in fermenting cheese, yogurt and alcohol, purifying water and making batteries.
Some of the gut bacteria found to be electrogenic included Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium perfringens, Enterococcus faecalis, streptococcus and Lactobacilli. These bacteria are mostly pathogenic and responsible for food-borne illnesses, diarrhea, gangrene, hospital-acquired infections and even miscarriages. Meanwhile, Lactobacilli is a probiotic often found in yogurt.
These species were found to use a completely different mechanism to previously-known electrogenic bacteria. Electrons produced in cells through metabolism need to be removed and whole air-breathing creatures use oxygen, electrogenic bacteria "breath" minerals like iron or manganese. A series of chemical reactions use those minerals to carry electrons from the cell creating an electrical current.
"The fact that so many bugs that interact with humans, either as pathogens or in probiotics or in our microbiota or involved in fermentation of human products, are electrogenic – that had been missed before," says Dan Portnoy, an author of the study. "It could tell us a lot about how these bacteria infect us or help us have a healthy gut. (Irving, 2018)
"Using an electrode, the team measured the strength of the electric current that these bacteria produce, and found it to be up to 500 microamps. That puts them on an equal footing with other known electrogenic bacteria.The discovery could lead to new ways to manipulate gut bacteria to improve our health or fight disease."(Irving, 2018)
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Irving, M. (2018, September 19). Electric bacteria found in the human gut. Retrieved from https://newatlas.com/gut-bacteria-produce-electricity/56394/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2018-09-19 143439 USA Daily Basic 2018-09-19 144323 Nuclear pasta ranked strongest material in the universe&utm_content=2018-09-19 143439 USA Daily Basic 2018-09-19 144323 Nuclear pasta ranked strongest material in the universe CID_c62de114941106571cb7b6f7816f289d&utm_source=Campaign Monitor&utm_term=Electric bacteria found in the human gut