But the more researchers have looked for “electrified” mud, the more they have found it, in both saltwater and fresh. They have also identified a second kind of mud-loving electric microbe: nanowire bacteria, individual cells that grow protein structures capable of moving electrons over shorter distances. These nanowire microbes live seemingly everywhere—including in the human mouth.
The discoveries are forcing researchers to rewrite textbooks; rethink the role that mud bacteria play in recycling key elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus; and reconsider how they influence aquatic ecosystems and climate change. Scientists are also pursuing practical applications, exploring the potential of cable and nanowire bacteria to battle pollution and power electronic devices (see sidebar below). “We are seeing way more interactions within microbes and between microbes being done by electricity,” Meysman says. “I call it the electrical biosphere.”
‘Electric mud’ teems with new, mysterious bacteria | Science | AAAS
I swear I saw a biological power system on Star Trek…