Scientists have for long known that bacteria can generate electricity when mixed with mud and seawater, which led to the development of microbial fuel cells. However, till date these researchers weren’t able to provide the reasons of just how bacteria create electric networks that serve as long distance communication.
It has been found that bacteria can communicate on a distance of up to 20,000 times their body size. A research team from the Aarhus University in Denmark is trying to find answers by looking at bacteria that live in marine sediment and use oxygen reactions to process organic material.
In the colonies of these bacteria, only the top sediment layers have access to oxygen, while the ones at the bottom have access to organic material. Somehow, the oxygen consumption and food consumption seems to be linked, so that electrons produces in the bottom layers get transported to the top layers to react with oxygen.
On cutting off the surface oxygen, the researchers found that food processing in the lower layers also fell down. The researchers are suggesting that this provides an indirect evidence of a nanowire network that connects certain bacteria, which might be eventually harvested by humans to power monitoring buoys with a living biogeobattery.