Microbes trading electricity in consortia of environmental and biotechnological significance

Amelia-Elena Rotaru*, Mon Oo Yee, Florin Musat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewResearchpeer-review


Favorable interspecies associations prevail in natural microbial assemblages. Some of these favorable associations are co-metabolic dependent partnerships in which extracellular electrons are exchanged between species. For such electron exchange to occur, the cells must exhibit electroactive interfaces and get involved in direct cell-to-cell contact (Direct Interspecies Electron Transfer / DIET) or use available conductive mineral grains from their environment (Conductive-particle-mediated Interspecies Electron Transfer / CIET). This review will highlight recent discoveries and knowledge gaps regarding DIET and CIET interspecies associations in artificial co-cultures and consortia from natural and manmade environments and emphasize approaches to validate DIET and CIET. Additionally, we acknowledge the initiation of a movement towards applying electric syntrophies in biotechnology, bioremediation and geoengineering for natural attenuation of toxic compounds. Next, we have highlighted the urgent research needs that must be met to develop such technologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Pages (from-to)119-129
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • direct interspecies electron transfer
  • mineral mediated interspecies electron transfer
  • syntrophy
  • methanogen
  • Geobacter
  • Methanosarcina
  • anaerobic methane oxidation
  • anaerobic butane oxidation
  • anaerobic ethane oxidation


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