A new life form has been discovered by biologists. An electric bacteria that live on pure energy, and they are unlike any other life on Earth. Eating and breathing electrons, they use energy in it’s purest form. These electrons are harvested from rocks and metals.
While eating electricity may seem otherworldly, this flow of current is necessary for all life. All organisms require electrons to generate and store energy. Humans and other life forms get electrons from food and excrete them with our breath.
Discovering these electricity eating bacteria shows that some basic forms of life can do away with intermediaries and handle energy in it’s purest form, electrons that have been harvested directly from the surface of minerals.
Kenneth Nealson of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles says “It is truly foreign, you know, in a sense, alien.”
There were two such organisms that scientists were familiar with prior to these recent discoveries, Shewanella and Geobacter. These bacteria were part of a hidden biosphere, and these organisms that chomp on electricity are only beginning to be understood by scientists.
Found in deep sea vents, ocean sediments a few inches below the deep sea floor, and in mineral rich veins deep beneath the planet’s surface, new ones are being discovered everyday. They are being found everywhere.
It has been found that some produce hair like filaments that act as wires, these filaments carry electrons back and forth between the cells and their environment. They were nicknamed microbial nanowires.
Early work shows that such cables conduct electricity as well as the wires in your home. This could open up interesting research avenues involving flexible, lab-grown bio cables.