Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shewanella and electrons

Have we found alien life? This interview did the rounds via Facebook recently. There is only one answer.


We have found bacteria that can run their electron transport chain using an electrical connection to an external electron acceptor. In more ordinary bacteria electrons travel down the ETC to complex IV where, under oxidative metabolism conditions, they are passed to oxygen as the terminal acceptor, still within the cell.

Bacteria are the most sophisticated metabolists on Earth. To stick a series of cytochromes together to form a wire, from the end of an electron transport chain to an extracellular acceptor of electrons, is no big deal. Once a bacterium is using such a wire (which will, undoubtedly, be using quantum tunnelling effects much as the FeS clusters of complex I do) to access extra cellular terminal acceptors it is absolutely no problem to make that terminal acceptor anything with an appropriate redox potential.

Under these conditions a cathode electrode will allow the metabolism of NADH from the cytosol, via complex I and the CoQ couple down the ETC and out along the cytochrome wire. A cathode electrode, whatever it is made of, is an electron acceptor. That's the definition.

So growing bugs on a cathode is utterly unremarkable. NADH comes from "food". Electrons from NADH drive the ETC to make ATP and are dumped out-of-cell on to the cathode.

Where things get slightly interesting is that you can also apply a negative voltage to the end of the wire, making it an anode, a net supplier of electrons. Certain types of bacteria can function under these conditions without any carbon input. From the article:

“A lot of organisms that can put electrons onto an electrode can also do the opposite and take electrons from one”—though not at the same time—Rowe says. That ability to reverse course surprises me, and Rowe, too. “I’d think it would be really hard on the organisms. You’re basically stealing energy from them. But they do okay.”

This is incorrect, it lacks perception.

It is perfectly possible to run the ETC in reverse. Bacteria do this on occasions, for reasons best known to themselves, especially if their normal metabolic substrates cannot generate NADH directly. Usually ATP is used to drive ATP synthase in reverse to maintain the membrane potential. Electrons flow in reverse to reduce NAD+ to NADH which can then be used for anabolism. All that Shewanella spp need to do is to use the negative voltage of an external electrode to facilitate reverse electron flow and they can be generating NADH for anabolism without any carbon source. About a third of a volt does the trick, from the interview.

Whether this process would allow the fixation of atmospheric carbon dioxide to actually allow growth is irrelevant. What matters is that there is absolutely nothing about these bacteria living on "pure electricity" which suggests anything other than a clever piece of wiring added on to the end of a  fairly normal ETC.

This is what Shewanella oneidensis looks like with its complex I and CoQ couple:

A clever bacterium? Yes, with very busy periplasm. But anyone who thinks that any bacteria are simple is stupid. What if you think that these particular ones are alien life forms?

"Kenneth Nealson is looking awfully sane for a man who’s basically just told me that he has a colony of aliens incubating in his laboratory".

It is only an alien life form if aliens developed the same electron transport chain as any Earthly organism which uses oxidative phosphorylation to chemical acceptors.

How much does Nealson know?



Unknown said...

How do the electrons 'drive' anything? They're fundamental particles. They don't get broken down or lose their identical unvarying charge to provide energy (if they did they wouldn't be electrons any longer). They pass through the ETC unchanged. In one end and out the other, and voila, life? Where does the energy come from? What energy are they carrying that they can provide to the process without themselves being altered? It's an energy gain without an equal energy loss. 'Quantum effects' would be hand waving. They also could not explain the net gain of energy. Energy balance is the fundamental law of physics no matter the scale. The electrons do drive the process, but how? Their mere presence?

gallier2 said...

The electron alone is nothing, but if you have lots of them, and you have a surplus of electrons somewhere, it tends to equilibrum (like water up on a hill). It's the phenomenon called an electrical current that is the "source of energy".
In lay terms, What Peter explained, is that the energy complex in the cells will oxydize food via a controlled enzymatic pathway (burning fuel is not controlled but it extracts the same energy) to concentrate electrons on one place, i.e. building up a current that will drive a "thing" that will make ATP from lower energy wielding molecules. These ATP are what the cells use then to function.
So what the guy in the article discovered, are bacteria that do not use the internally food generated electricity but use directly the externally provided electricty to make the ATP it needs to work (so Viktor Frankenstein was right all along ;-) )

Here I will quote a comment I made on the 20th of january, it is more appropriate under this blog entry


I discovered recently an entry in one of my microprocessor blogs about cell biology. It was quite surprizing, because the blogger has nothing to do with metabolism and health stuff, he's a real hardware engineer of exceptional knowledge.
He doesn't pretend to know anything about cells, but he was fascinated by his misconceptions in face of articles he read.
He presents several animations and factoids who are really surprizing when viewed from an engineers point of view (the proton pump being in fact an electric motor with a speed of 40000 rpm and such).
Interesting read.

Unknown said...

Gallier2 you're not thinking it through. On one side of the ETC is heat, motion, reproduction, etc. On the other are inert unvarying electrons. What 'energy' are they carrying and how do they transfer it to the process without being altered themselves? It certainly doesn't matter how many there are. You realize your describing energy for free, right? Go into you're garage, pretend you're an electron, and then make a scale model of an ATP molecule. But do it without actually expending any energy. Just sit on the floor and see what happens. That's essentially what the electrons are doing as they pass through the ETC. They go in as electrons and come out exactly the same. They don't cool down, they don't lose their charge, they don't shrink, yet there is heat and all the other hallmarks of life. How can that be?

Guillermo Fernandez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guillermo Fernandez said...

Someone needs a basic physics course ......

Peter, a litle off topic, do you have any comment on the effects of mutations on the assembly of Complex I FeS subunits? I am particularly interested in those in NDFUS8 that are not leading to leigh disease like symptoms, kind a living o. A low rotenone dose? Any comments welcome

gallier2 said...

No unknown, I'm not describing zero energy, I'm describing electricity.
The batterie pumping electrons in a circuit is the one giving the energy, the electron itself does not. The electron is moved because of the difference of potential between the 2 electrodes. Difference of potential is another word tension or voltage. Look at the analogy with water. If you have water running down a slope, it is the gravity that gives the energy because there is a difference of potential energy between the water above and below. When you put a lot of electrons in one location and you have missing electrons in another location, then there is force that develops between these two spaces, it's called an electric field. If there is nothing holding the electrons on one side, they will flow to the other side until the charges are in equilibrum, exactly like water on the hill, it will flow down until there is no difference in potential energy.
SO the energy to get a potential energy difference is in separating electrons from the protons on one side. In an electric circuit it is done by charging the battery with freshly moved electrons (the electric network) or to have a chemical compound that stored surplus electrons like in non chargeable batteries.

Team Kruse said...

How do electrons drive anything? Are you serious? They control and determine the chemistry of every element on this periodic table and they are powering your technology device right now. This is why biology is clueless. No one realize in the back of every electron is light in the form of a photon. That light comes from the sun. We metabolize frequencies of light in the food we eat just as a tree use CO2 with light to make sugar. When a bunch of electrons get together they build complexity. DHA and O2 are examples of what happens when electrons com together.

Team Kruse said...

It might be wise to remember that your quantum heat engine called a mitochondria, evolved from a bacteria too........This has massive implications.

Passthecream said...

Hi Peter, I'm a little confused about the use of the terms anode and cathode here. Typically a cathode is an electron supplier and a (positive) anode is an electron acceptor, do they reverse this terminology in biology?


Unknown said...

Look at this way. On one side of the ETC is life. Let's call it heat. That means that an exactly equal amount of heat had to come in the other side. That's the fundamental law. Heat does not just appear out of nowhere. Electrons are not tiny batteries. They're an unvarying particle, not a heat storage unit. Clearly, the electrons are bringing the heat, but how? Where do they get it? How do they store it? How do they transfer it to the cells? And if they do transfer it they must necessarily become less energetic themselves. That's the rule. Do they then go out into the universe and charge back up? They are all identical in size and charge after all. What would be the source of that recharging? Current physics is missing something very important, and an ETC clearly shows that. This model has unvarying particles in and heat out. That cannot be, if you think it through. If it's heat out it has to be heat in. Whence the heat in an energy balanced universe?

gallier2 said...

Unknown, you are hopeless. Open a book on physics and chemistry, please.

It's not the particle itself that stores or has energy, it's its MOTION.

My analogy with the battery was to show that on one side you have a lot of electrons and on the other side, you have alot of electrons missing. When you short the circuit, the electrons will move to the other side untile there is the amount electrons on each side. Not one of these electrons is the energy of the system, their motion is.

Forget about heat, heat is the most degenerate form of energy and is generally the manifestation of a loss in the system. Heat is not life and life is not heat. Heat is only the mean of kinetic energy of the atoms in the system, i.e. it's the energy of their MOTION, not the energy of the atoms them selves.

Passthecream said...

Unknown - do you ever use a torch? The electrons move around, converting chemical potential energy into heat and light end etc but remain essentially unchanged by the process.

Peter said...

Passthecream, yes. I wondered this too. The microbiologist in the article used a "cathode" initially to find bugs which routinely use an external electron acceptor, i.e. a positively charged electrode to allow simple running of the ETC in the forward direction by accepting electrons.

I have also considered a cathode should be a source of electrons, i.e. cathode rays in the ancient non flat screen TV which I have in my sitting room.

But lookie here for a definition of cathode off of T’internet:


1. the electrode or terminal by which current leaves an electrolytic cell, voltaic cell, battery, etc.

2. the positive terminal of a voltaic cell or battery.

3. the negative terminal, electrode, or element of an electron tube or electrolytic cell.

In the end I went with the definition used by the researchers cited in the interview. In view of their outlook this may have been a mistake and perhaps I ought to just edit out any terminology applied to the name of the electron acceptor or donor electrode in the text.

It bugged me for some time, you can see why!

Gallier2, thanks, I finally got to read his blog. It did indeed give an extra insight in to how life slots together and also of how little free water is likely to be present in cells. I’m also reading around about archaeal vs bacterial ATP-ases in the origin of life context so this has been quite on topic for my off topic musings!

Uknown, you’ve had your fun, either you are unhelpable or a troll.

Guillermo, I have spent many hours trying to work through the hyperglycaemic modification of NDUFA2 and 3 and have really struggled to find out exactly where they are in complex I. Up around the FAD moiety of course, but where relative to N1-a FeS group? Too little in the published literature as yet. If you have more detailed models of complex I sub unit composition I’d love a pointer. As to complex I dysfunction of a non extreme type, there is clearly scope for health benefits as there come from low dose rotenone. This has been shown (in C elegans etc) to extend life. Obviously degree is very important. Transition from hormesis to damage might occur at quite low levels of dysfunction….


Passthecream said...

this snip form wikipedia simplifies it:

"In a device which consumes power, the cathode is negative, and in a device which provides power, the cathode is positive:"

The original concept of current was devised before electrons were discovered so 'conventional current' flows in the opposite direction to electrons, ie out of the +ve end of a power source.

Mention of cathode ray tubes plus electrons from bacteria makes me wonder what effect a strong magnetic field would have on their E.T.C.


Unknown said...


So the kinetic energy of electrons is powering all life? Their MOTION. How might this energy be transferred from the electrons to the cells?

Team Kruse said...

Pass the cream is now starting to wonder in the right direction. Mitochondria are tiny nano electromagnets. This is why diatomic oxygen is paramagnetic. O2 is drawn to tissues in electromagnetic fashion.

Team Kruse said...

In terms of naming anodes and cathodes remember life is a dissipative structure. It is designed to store energy to use it at will. Only then can one determine what is anode and cathode. In this way it can result in bidirectional actions. It also is what makes the internal environment of the cell so sensitive to the redox potential within that nanoenvironment.

Team Kruse said...

Antioxidants have frequently been touted by nutrition providers as the antidote to oxidative stress of a low redox potential, but they are only part of the complex chemical story. Although oxidation can lead to toxicity, it is important to realize that redox-based molecules are essential mediators of critical functions in physiological systems and are essential to immunity against all diseases. In this way, redox molecules are designed to act to “open the doors of heaven or hell” based upon the charge status of the local environment of the cell or tissue in question.

The role of redox molecules, such as nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS), as key mediators of immunity and wellness protectors has recently garnered renewed interest and appreciation in the literature. To regulate immune responses, these redox species trigger the eradication of pathogens on the one hand, and modulate immunosuppression during tissue-restoration and wound-healing processes on the other. They play a huge role in the development of autoimmune conditions, when signaling is poor due to a low redox state or a state where ELECTRONS ARE MISSING FROM PROTEINS, WATER, OR A CELL MEMBRANE.

In the acidic environment (low pH due to lots of protons) of the phagosome, a variety of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and ROS is produced, thereby providing a cauldron of redox chemistry, which is the first line in fighting infections normally. Interestingly, fluctuations in the levels of these same reactive intermediates orchestrate other phases of the normal immune response.

NO activates specific signal transduction pathways in tumor cells, endothelial cells and monocytes in a concentration-dependent manner. As ROS can react directly with NO-forming RNS, NO bioavailability and therefore, NO response(s) are easily changed by local environmental pressures (CONTROLLED BY ELECTRONS =ZETA POTENTIAL) in cells. The NO/ROS balance is also important during Th1 to Th2 transition and critical in the development of autoimmune conditions due to inaccurate signaling of the charged particles with non native electromagnetic force. This force can alter the local magnetic fields in mitochondria.

An environment with a “low redox potential” means electrons have a weak-charged environment. Non-native EMF is an example of an environment that lowers the cells charged state or redox potential. In a weak, electron-charged environment, genetic expression fails because either DNA base pairs unravel or unwanted molecules stick to DNA sequences. Since the frequency of DNA vibration determines the informational coherence of energy transmissions, stuck-on molecules dampen DNA’s directions like a wad of chewing gum stuck to a tuning fork.

Water’s exclusion zone (EZ) absorbs UV radiation best in the 270 nm range of frequency. This also happens to be where DNA absorbs the electromagnetic spectrum best as well. This is no coincidence. This is how the redox potential directly alters epigenetic expression.

When DNA molecules become crippled, transmission of cellular communications are garbled and inaccurate. You might begin to see why cancer and autoimmunity are really linked now. In fact, the production of enzymes and hormones that carry out DNA’s instructions begins to go haywire to cause disease. Many get fooled into believing it is a food-only story because of observation only. Altered redox chemistry is the root of all illness; it is due to a lack of energy and chronic oxidative stress that is not curbed.

Those with electrical or chemical sensitivities, by definition, also have a poor redox potential because their immune systems are also lacking electrons at some scale.

Team Kruse said...

So the kinetic energy of electrons is powering all life? Their MOTION. How might this energy be transferred from the electrons to the cells? The tensegrity of the cells. We use piezoelectric currents and flexoelectric currents in cell membranes and water to do it. When you change the pattern of tension in the cytoarchitecture of the cell or organelle you alter the pattern of flow of electrons. This is why size and shape changes are the macroscopic changes for cytochrome c action in mitochondrial recycling programs like autophagy and apoptosis.

Team Kruse said...

A redox reaction occurs when a certain substance is oxidized while another is reduced. During oxidation, the substance loses one or more electrons, and thus becomes positively charged. Conversely, during reduction, the substance gains electrons and becomes negatively charged. This relates to the measurement of the cell potential because the difference between the potential for the reducing agent to become oxidized and the oxidizing agent to become reduced will determine the cell potential. The cell potential (Ecell) is measured in voltage (V), which allows us to give a certain value to the cell potential.

An electrochemical cell is comprised of two half-cells. In one half-cell, the oxidation of a metal electrode occurs, and in the other half-cell, the reduction of metal ions in solution occurs. The half cell essentially consists of a metal electrode of a certain metal submerged in an aqueous solution of the same metal ions. The electrode is connected to the other half-cell, which contains an electrode of some metal submerged in an aqueous solution of subsequent metal ions.

The first half-cell, in this case, will be marked as the anode. In this half-cell, the metal in atoms in the electrode become oxidized and join the other metal ions in the aqueous solution. An example of this would be a copper electrode, in which the Cu atoms in the electrode loses two electrons and becomes Cu2+ .

The Cu2+ ions would then join the aqueous solution that already has a certain molarity of Cu2+ ions. The electrons lost by the Cu atoms in the electrode are then transferred to the second half-cell, which will be the cathode.

In this example, we will assume that the second half-cell consists of a silver electrode in an aqueous solution of silver ions. As the electrons are passed to the Ag electrode, the Ag+ ions in solution will become reduced and become an Ag atom on the Ag electrode. In order to balance the charge on both sides of the cell, the half-cells are connected by a salt bridge. As the anode half-cell becomes overwhelmed with Cu2+ ions, the negative anion of the salt will enter the solution and stabilized the charge. Similarly, in the cathode half cell, as the solution becomes more negatively charged, cations from the salt bridge will stabilize the charge.

How does this relate to the cell potential?

For electrons to be transferred from the anode to the cathode, there must be some sort of energy potential that makes this phenomenon favorable. The potential energy that drives the redox reactions involved in electrochemical cells is the redox potential; this involves the anode becoming oxidized and the potential for the cathode to become reduced. The electrons involved in these cells will fall from the anode, which has a higher potential to become oxidized, to the cathode, which has a lower potential to become oxidized.

This is analogous to a rock falling from a cliff in which the rock will fall from a higher potential energy to a lower potential energy. The difference between the anode’s potential to become reduced and the cathode’s potential to become reduced is the cell potential. In this way, you can see why fluoride limits redox potentials because of its high positive redox charge.

You can see more detail how clinicians use the redox potential here:

Team Kruse said...

Hydrogen has the largest energy density over any other fuel in the world. When we burn hydrogen in air, the reaction should be:

2H2(g)+O2(g) → 2H2(l) (ΔH=-286kJ/mol)
Which means that 1mol of hydrogen can produce 286kJ energy through reaction with oxygen. Obviously, the energy density of hydrogen is E = 286 kJ/mol × 0.5 mol/g = 143kJ/g, which is much higher than that of many other fuels such as methane. Because of the high energy density, in order to reduce the weight of space shuttle, people choose to use liquid hydrogen as the fuel. Mitochondria use H+ for similar reasons. The microbiome releases massive amounts of H2 to help offset the hydroxyl free radical in the gut. That free radical is generated when three or more electrons are missing in a redox reaction from the surrounding water. What are the two products of mitochondrial action? O2 and water................

Another important application of "hydrogen action" as an energy carrier is in the ultimate biologic fuel cell (think a possible natural short acting magnetic monopole H+). Hydrogen acts as the anode (like the planets) and splits into protons and electrons under the assistance of catalyst (light or hydrophilic proteins). Hydrophilic proteins are loaded with electrons hydrophobic ones lack electrons. Protons move from anode towards cathode through a conductive electrolyte (cell water or an ionic plasma), and electrons go through external circuit (ECT) and meet with protons and oxygen in cathode (cytochromes). Then the product, water, is produced, as well as electric power (BOOM). The voltage of this cell can be calculated by the Gibbs free energy, ΔG = -237.1 kJ/mol, which gives the voltage applying the Nernst equation E = -ΔG/nF = 237.1kJ/mol2 × 96485C/mol = 1.229 V. The fuel cells (sum or mitochondria) contain a large amount of energy, and the product is water, which is totally friendly to the cellular environment. Life simulates what a star does too. Physics scales both situations but few see the parallels. Did you know new stars spew out water when they are formed? The investigations into the fuel cells are going to make an avenue to the applications of hydrogen as an energy carrier, such as the hydrogen cars and hydrogen power station. Biology will soon realize why the mitochondria are loaded with H+ and why our "healthy" microbiome makes 10-12L of H2 a day.

The sun and mitochondria have a lot in common........both have large electric and magnetic fields for one contain the light they emit. Star have full spectrum light and mitochondria contain most IR light we use to uncouple........I am just piecing it together for you, with Peter's help.

Team Kruse said...

Nowadays there are two ways for us to produce hydrogen. In industry, hydrogen is produced by steam reforming of natural gas (CH4), which is shown as follows:

CH4(g) + H2O(g) → CO(g) + 3H2(g)
Most of the hydrogen we use today comes out from this reaction in factories.

We don't have methane and we are not a factory. So where does H+ come from in our biologic star: a mitochondria?

Team Kruse said...

In humans, who have more mitochondria in their brain, what surrounds the neocortex? CSF. 99.9% of CSF is what? Water.

Want to guess where mitochondria H+ comes from?

Most want to guess food.................

Y'all are too smart for that. However, it is familiar to most people on my site that we can also split water to produce hydrogen using electric voltage stored in our cell membranes. As I mentioned above in a biologic fuel cell, the output voltage is 1.23 V. This voltage is reversible (key point of the tensegrity system), which means that 1.23 V is the lowest limit voltage we need to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. However, the voltage is calculated thermodynamically (statistically), and kinetically (sounds like the matrix no?) , higher voltage is needed depending on the electrode we use (inner mito membrane has 30,000,000 volts DHA and thinness). This 'idea' relates to the catalyst for hydrogen's evolution into life, and in order to explain it clearly, I introduce the Tafel behavior in g electrochemistry briefly. What is that?

For Hydrogen to evolve or emerge with acid electrolyte, hydrogen evolves from the reaction 2H + aq + 2e → H2(g). The rate of this reaction is tested by the current through the circuit. The relationship between the current and the voltage we apply is called current-overpotential equation: (another name for the Tafel equation)

i = i0 [C0(0,t)/C0* e-αnfη - CR(0,t)/CR*e (1-α)nfη]
in which C0 and CR represent the concentrations of the participants, i0 is the exchange current, α stands for the asymmetry coefficient, f=F/RT, and η represents the overpotential. When the overpotential goes to large negative, the left term in the bracket is much larger than the right one, and the equation can be rewritten as i=i0 e-αnfη. The current increases exponentially with overpotential, which is named as Tafel behavior. From this behavior, we can extract two important parameters, exchange current i0 and Tafel slope 1/αnf by fitting the linear relationship between log(i) and η. These two parameters are the criterions for the catalytic activity of catalysts. In order to be the best catalyst for hydrogen to evolve/emerge, it should achieve the largest exchange current and the smallest Tafel slope. And until now, as we now realize, platinum is the unbeatable catalyst for hydrogen evolution which has the exchange current density of 4.5 × 10-4 A/cm2, and the Tafel slope as small as 30 mV/decade. This works in your car..........but not so much in us. We use something else. We dont use platinum for two reasons........atomic mass too big.......and it is rare on earth like Helium.

So what do we use in our cells sun?

Team Kruse said...

Molybdenum and sulfur. The free energy calculations for MoS2 is very close to platinium.

Ironic no? MoS2?
Do we have MoS2?

Nope. Do bacteria? Yep. What do we have that is special on our inner mitochondrial membrane compared to other membranes in us?

We have Molybdenum and Fe-S clusters; and electrons and protons in the cytochrome channels. Fe is ferromagnetic and S dimagnetic.

Moly is special too in a magnetic acts a an electron sink. A source of a huge amount of electrons for us to use to split H2 gas.

Team Kruse said...

The whole process of Hydrogen evolution/emergence in a system can be divided into two steps: absorption and desorption. First, the protons from the solution (ionic plasma) are attached to the catalytic sites of the electrode (matrix close to Molybdenum). Then the electrons from the electrode combine with the protons to form hydrogen atoms. Two hydrogen atoms combine together to become a hydrogen molecule. Desorption then takes place and molecular hydrogen leaves from the site of the electrode. One of the two steps may be the rate determine step. Platinum is the rate determining step in a car's exhaust and is the desorption step because the Gibbs free energy is uphill. For MoS2, the rate determining step changes to the absorption step. Why is this big? Because it becomes a zero entropy step because Gibbs free energy of the reaction is ZERO!!! This is why biology like Moly. Any time the Gibbs free energy approaches to zero, the catalyst becomes very active (kinetic ipsotope effect) because the rate determining step is also very fast (faster than the speed of light).

Now remember that Mo and S are close to one another with iron in between them on the inner mitochondrial membrane. Coincidence? Nope Everything is about size and shape and tension in the subatomic world. Y'all are just beginning to see this scale at work. However, bulk chemical MoS2, it is not active for Hydrogen evolution at all because of its atomic structure.

Here you see QED physics enter the picture with size and shape and quantum abilities. MoS2 has a hexagonal structure consisting of three covalently bonded atomic sheets, which are S-Mo-S in sequence. The planar, two-dimensional layers are linked by van der Waals interaction. Mitochondria break up this effect by putting Fe next to the S and further away from Moly.

Why? The reason why bulk chemical MoS2 is not an active catalyst for hydrogen in biology is because not enough edge sites are exposed. So what did lady evolution do?

She decided to use a transition metal with lots of D shell electrons that was specifically ferromagnetic and could electrically or magnetically effect this atomic relationship using redox chemistry. What Lady evolution does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.

Team Kruse said...

Cites for my ramblings:

[1] A. J. Bard and L. R. Faulkner, Electrochemical Methods (Wiley, 2000).

[2] B. E. Conway and B. V. Tilak, "Interfacial Processes Involving Electrocatalytic Evolution and Oxidation of H2 and the Role of Chemisorbed H," Electrochim. Acta 47, 3571 (2002).

[3] B. Hinnemann et al., "Biomimetic Hydrogen Evolution: MoS2 Nanoparticles as Catalyst for Hydrogen Evolution," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 127, 5308 (2005).

[4] C. Kisielowski et al., "Imaging MoS2 Nanocatalysts With Single-Atom Sensitivity," Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 49, 2708 (2010).

[5] T. F. Jaramillo et al., "Identification of Active Edge Sites for Electrochemical H2 Evolution From MoS2 Nanocatalysts," Science 317, 100 (2007).

[6] Y. Li et al., "MoS2 Nanoparticles Grown on Graphene: An Advanced Catalyst for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133, 7296 (2011).

[7] Z. Chen et al., "Core-Shell MoO3 Nanowires for Hydrogen Evolution: A Functional Design for Electrocatalytic Materials," Nano Lett. 11, 4168 (2011).

[8] J. D. Benck et al., "Amorphous Molybdenum Sulfide Catalysts for Electrochemical Hydrogen Production: Insights Into the Origin of Their Catalytic Activity," ACS Catal. 2, 1916 (2012).

Guillermo Fernandez said...

I love to see biology being explained and supported by physical concepts and I really think that’s the end of the road (what I cannot understand, I cannot build….;) ) Aaaaaanyway, it'd be great to have the ideas clearly stated, and the physics supporting the concepts clearly stated too. There are toooo many concepts here that may well play a role in biology but I cannot see what the ultimate point is and cannot tell from the comments (which are too confusing to me) if the whole thing is physically plausible. Kind a remind me of certain sad examples of physics mixed up with other disciplines….

Guillermo Fernandez said...

Peter, this is the best I've got

Passthecream said...

Guillermo, the deconstructionist hoax reminds me of this -- a bit off-topic, sorry. The hoax was better than the real poetry.

That's a lovely complex 1 paper,


JohnN said...

So it's not alien but it's still an exciting find, electric bacteria.
With gene editing techniques we'll see how far and how many ways Shewanella oneidensis will be manipulated to serve the needs of human. If E.coli can make insulin I'd say a self-sustaining bio/quantum-computer (with its own power source) would be nice.

George Henderson said...


I put a bowling ball on the ground. You see it doing nothing.
Then I put it up a tree using energy stored in the food I eat (originally solar photon quantum energy, in sufficient quantities to move electrons, used by plants to make molecules that couldn't exist without energy and that release energy when their bonds are broken by the enzymes in my cells).
Later you walk by and it falls on your head.
It's the same ball. It hasn't changed.
You, on the other hand...

Ash Simmonds said...

I'm just burnin' doin' the electron dance.

Passthecream said...

Well put George!

Cathode and anode terminology aside I am wondering how the circuit is completed. You have this nice bacterium battery (a bactry?) pushing out electrons but unless the electrons somehow return to it after they have done some work then it will continue to get more +ve probably to the point of spark induced electrocution. What completes the circuit? It is fascinating that you can spin it backwards, feeding them raw power thus recharging your bactries.

But it is coming back to my aging brain that this discovery is old news. It was either touted on the Aus. ABC RN Science show some years back or perhaps in New Scientist around the same time as they were getting a few hundred millivolts out of gum trees.


Unknown said...

Imagine a tank of gasoline behind an engine, then another tank (empty) in front of the engine, then another engine and on and on. Now start the first engine and run it until the tank is empty. The next tank will also be empty and the work the engine did will match the energy content of the gas and nothing more will happen. Now take Shawenella. There's a tank of electrons, an engine then another tank then another engine and on and on. Run the fuel into the first engine, which will do its work, and then? The next tank will be full (would you find that unusual with the 2nd gas tank?). The electron will emerge from the engine in exactly the same condition it was in as it went into the engine. Otherwise you wouldn't need the second tank. You could just chuck the burned out electron or it would be non-existent like the gas. And very importantly the electron will have to be precisely the same or it wouldn't be able to interact normally with the electrons of the second tank. The existence of the Periodic Table depends on all the components of an atom being exactly the same throughout the universe constantly. Now then, that electron will continue on through many more engines, but it will not be degraded, weakened or altered in the least and will always fill the next tank be it a cathode or an oxygen molecule in other cells. Electrons don't change. All in the universe now are exactly as they were 14 billion years ago. It's a no-drain-for-the-gain scenario. There is no value on the minus side of the energy equation. Surely you see that. The fuel NEVER changes, yet work gets done. Do you think that electrons do degrade, weaken or alter? Ask a physicist. It's energy for free. Standard Theory is clearly missing something very important about electrons. Gat Huckle

Peter said...

Passthecream, absolutely. Allowing the electrons anywhere near the proton gradients they have been used to generate would simply fully uncouple respiration and generate extracellular hydrogen. The the electrons must be dumped far away, clearly an electrode does the job very effectively. But there MUST be a countercurrent to maintain electrical neutrality. But would this countercurrent simply uncouple respiration???? Fascinating bugs, I have to agree with you JohnN.

Thanks Guillermo, that's a lot better than anything I found. Ta.


Guillermo Fernandez said...

@Unknown (really? unkown?)

Physics laws are just educated generalizations of experience, a refined version of common sense to include controlled extensions of such experience . And yes, they could be wrong when you go beyond the frontiers of experience, such as lower/larger space, time or energy scales. Anyway, If I have to choose a single physics law and bet its “true” when extrapolated I would chose conservation of energy without a shadow of a doubt. It is the one largely tested at all achievable scales, and compatible with aaaaaaaaaaalllllllll observations, from astrophysics to quantum physics, and through all the achievable/measurable energy scale.
Your comments suggest that energy comes from the electrons themselves, without any reference to motion and interactions which are actually the two sides of the energy coin, as if energy were created from nothing in the process or something like that. Either you will have to explain yourself clearly or you are wrong
I strooooongly recommend you to go in detail through the physics of mechanics before trying to suggest a bug (and a huge one) to the Standard Model….

Peter said...

Though thinking it through a little further, the electron would only sacrifice one proton of the many pumped through the ETC by that electron. It would be interesting to know if these bacteria, in the absence of an electrode, evolve hydrogen...


Unknown said...


The energy content of gasoline is 120 MJ/US gallon. If you run it through an engine that is what you'll get on the output side. 120MJ. And you won't have the gas any longer. I'm not saying the electrons provide the energy, the model is. I just gave you the energy content of the input for a gas engine. Now you give me the energy content of the input for a shewanella engine and explain to me how you can still have it after it goes through the engine. Motion...interaction...really?...seriously?

Passthecream said...

@Unknown, unknowable, unfathomable: It is hard to understand how you could accept the existence of electrons without also accepting that they need a quantum of energy to be liberated from an atom or a molecule. This is the (well tested) basis of physics, chemistry, lasers, etc. After accepting this quantum of energy they are quite keen to give it away again. It helps them to relax. Which means that they can do some 'work' before knocking off. Coincidentally that behaviour first gives them an independant existence as a charged particle and then takes it away again when they emit their photon and snuggle back into a stable arrangement with a proton.

@Peter --- remember the paragraph in Power,Sex,Suicide where Nick Lane estimates the power density of the sun at 0.0002mW/g, of a human cell at 2mW/g and some species of azobacter at around 10W/g? Hot bugs! To put it in familiar terms, my estimate of an AAA battery is about 13mW/g at full tilt so that gives a feel for how much work bacteria could perform if well-harnessed. Is this the greatest untapped renewable energy source?

Obviously shewanella must gain something by doing some work outside of it's cell boundary. The spent electrons must come back in some form but what, and how? Perhaps this organism is related to the ones that geologists think are producing fresh deposits of gold and other metals in hot geothermal environments or maybe to anaerobes making H2S at the bottom of lakes. There must be a sequence of reactions that gives a nett gain of energy.


Unknown said...


If you can see that there is no net loss of energy to the electron stream through a filament of Shewanella and what that implies, great. If not, oh well.

Guillermo Fernandez said...

@Passthecream, thanks for answering the unkowable, although I think it is worthless: instead of assuming energy conservation and look for the missing puzzle pieces, he proposes a whole paradigm shift based on poorly studied bacteria.... non-sense to me ;)

Passthecream said...

Unknown: Electrons carry energy. They can absorb it and emit it while still being electrons AFAICT.

Unknown said...


All the electrons in the universe are identical. It would be an odd universe otherwise. Here is their scientific definition: having a negative charge of 1.602 × 10 −19coulombs, a mass of 9.108 × 10 −31kilograms. Some cannot have more energy than others. But I would be curious to know where you think they 'absorb' energy from, and since they're donated in pairs from NADH wouldn't it be a problem if one had 'absorbed' and the other one hadn't?

Passthecream said...

Here goes, one last time. Sorry folks --- moth to a candle etc.

It really IS an odd universe.

Unknown, I'd love to hear your detailed explanation of how an incandescent light bulb works but this is not the right forum for your insights and you should instead be patenting inventions based on them. Please kindly remember that this was my idea and remit a percentage of the profits.


Unknown said...


Today's Circuit Theory has the same gaping hole that the ETC model has; unvarying and invariable electrons 'producing' energy. The electrons go round and round the circuit and heat and light come out, but again, there is no net loss to the electron stream to balance the output. There is hand-waving about lowering electron orbits in the atoms of the filament, but there is no explanation as to why or how that would generate a photon (which is considered to be pure energy), and yet again, the electrons of the current and the electrons in their orbits will continuously match all the other electrons in the universe. There is no energy to take from them. Clearly, there is a dynamism to electrons that Standard Theory is completely missing. There is a coherent explanation, but saying it to a physicist has the same effect as telling a lipophope that saturated fat is actually good for him. He'll quickly hit tilt and stick to his comforting energy-for-free world-view. After all, that's what everyone 'knows', right?

Team Kruse said...

Everything is about the charge contained within your cells. You are small collection of coupled integrated electric magnetic and photonic couple systems designed to control energy flows in a specific fashion based upon your design.

Not extra water...........proper density water to allow quantum transfers of energy from outside inside and inside back out.

Humans can see but they are poor observers of nature. The eye can always see, but seeing is not believing. To believe you must understand. If the mind fails to understand, the eye remains blind to reality. Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply a passage of time. Action with vision is harnessing a positive force for creating a difference, because that vision, if focused and coherent and can properly decode the ciphers embedded in nature.

Metastability is built in in to cells. We get sick when we are contrary to QED........but the beauty of this design is that all is reversible once we get the message that when you live within your design any disease is reversible. The laws of physics are bi-driectional. They are not a one way street or ticket to oblivion.

Your mind is like iron fillings on a sheet of paper........your environment is the magnet below the paper.........

at sleep the magnet's forces reorganizes your fillings back to your previous form based upon the lines of force in that field.......within day time light and electric currents move some of your atoms around in space and time. They alter your atomic geometry, so to speak.

That small daily movement is what you call life.

Your brain and tensegrity systems act in coherent fashion when they are pre loaded with energy that is acting as one in a syncytium and your atoms in cells codify those small atomic changes.

And you learn from those small daily movements as alterations of sizes and shapes. When your brain sense this is a good movement, a decision that is made based upon the redox or an increase of energy flows within that open automatically magnetically imprint that change into your magnets field at night in REM sleep by using light and O2 to generate free radicals to entangle and coherently connect those new atoms to your tissues. You are recycling atoms from chaos into your system..........and it works in a slightly new way every day in your to organize the atoms in you.