Long-distance electron transfer in a filamentous Gram-positive bacterium

Yonggang Yang, Zegao Wang, Cuifen Gan, Lasse Hyldgaard Klausen, Robin Bonné, Guannan Kong, Dizhou Luo, Mathijs Meert, Chunjie Zhu, Guoping Sun, Jun Guo, Yuxin Ma, Jesper Tataru Bjerg, Jean Manca, Meiying Xu*, Lars Peter Nielsen, Mingdong Dong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Long-distance extracellular electron transfer has been observed in Gram-negative bacteria and plays roles in both natural and engineering processes. The electron transfer can be mediated by conductive protein appendages (in short unicellular bacteria such as Geobacter species) or by conductive cell envelopes (in filamentous multicellular cable bacteria). Here we show that Lysinibacillus varians GY32, a filamentous unicellular Gram-positive bacterium, is capable of bidirectional extracellular electron transfer. In microbial fuel cells, L. varians can form centimetre-range conductive cellular networks and, when grown on graphite electrodes, the cells can reach a remarkable length of 1.08 mm. Atomic force microscopy and microelectrode analyses suggest that the conductivity is linked to pili-like protein appendages. Our results show that long-distance electron transfer is not limited to Gram-negative bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1709
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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