Until now, scientists haven’t been able to provide the reasons of just how bacteria generate electric networks that serve as long distance communication systems. They have known just that it can produce electric energy when mixed with seawater and mud, leading to the development of microbial fuel cells.
Researchers at the Aarhus University in Denmark are trying to to find answers by looking at bacteria that live in marine sediment and use oxygen reactions to process organic material. The researchers’ studies show that bacteria situated at the top sediment layers have access to oxygen, while the bacteria near the bottom have access to the organic material.
But somehow the food consumption and oxygen consumption seem to be linked, so that electrons produced in the bottom layers get transported to the top layers to react with oxygen.
Lars Peter Nielsen, the leader of this team, has discovered that when surface oxygen is cut off the food processing in the lower layers, food processing also fell down in less than an hour, acting too fast for it to behave like a normal chemical reaction, thus suggesting that this provides an additional indirect evidence of a nanowire network that connects certain bacteria and that can be harvested to power monitoring buoys with a living biogeobattery.