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Electron Shuffle

Shewanella bacteria generate energy for survival by transporting electrons to nearby mineral surfaces.

May 1, 2013
Mohamed Y. El-Naggar and Steven E. Finkel

View full size JPG | PDF© THOM GRAVES

Cytochromes (structure depicted above) on the bacterial outer membranes contain a number of heme groups that accept and donate electrons, allowing the charges to flow along the membrane. Cytochromes also line cellular appendages known as pili that can conduct charges down their length to other microbes or to the mineral substrate. Additionally, the bacteria employ flavin molecules to work as electron shuttles, collecting electrons at the cell surface and carrying them to a nearby electron acceptor.

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