Are The Intestinal Bacteria The New Living Batteries?
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Oct 1, 2018
There are trillions of microbes in a human body. To be specific 3% of the body weight is made up of these tiny beings. They help the body digest the food, prevent cancer, ease rheumatoid arthritis, decrease the risk of heart disease, elevate the immune system, cures infectious diseases and gastrointestinal problems and more. To top this up, a study conducted in the Lund University of Sweden concluded that the bacteria residing in the intestinal region of the human and animal body could create an electric current.
Which is the microbe involved in this research?
The microbe involved in this research is Enterococcus faecalis. They are lactic acid bacteria present in the gut (gastrointestinal tract) of both humans and animals. The researchers have concluded that this set of bacteria is capable of performing an extracellular electron transport which is the main factor that determines the production of the electric current.
How was the experiment performed?
In the study, when Enterococci was placed next to an electrode, the bacterium transferred an electron to it. Once the electron was transferred to the electrode, an electric current was created. Further study showed that the metabolism occurring at the cellular level (break down sugar inside its cell) of the bacterium was responsible for the released of electrons. The molecules inside the cell membrane known as quinine are responsible for the actual transmission of electrons to the electrode.
How is the electron released from the bacterium?
To make it very simple, like we humans breathe in oxygen to remove the electrons produced during a metabolic process occurring in the body likewise bacteria generate electricity for the same reason.
In animals and plants, the electron is a byproduct of some metabolic activity going in the body which is transfer to the oxygen inside the mitochondria of every cell. The gut bacteria are in an anaerobic (no oxygen) environment. Therefore, they have to find another electron acceptor which is why they release it to the electrode.
This research can be a breakthrough in areas such as pharmacology, bioenergy production, wastewater treatment, biosensors, microbiology, biotechnology, and bioengineering processes.