The Microorganism Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans can use Electrical Current as a Direct and Sole Energy Source


It is well known that there are two main groups of living organisms in terms of their energy source: chemotrophs and phototrophs. Recently it has been shown that some living organisms, and in particular, microorganisms, could use electrical current as both a sole energy source and as an electron donor. This, third group of organisms, was named electro trophs.The main goal of this work is to prove that the microorganism Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans can live in electro trophic mode.

All known living organisms such as animals, plants and microorganisms, require energy for their life. The energy is usually supplied by redox reactions, in which an electron acceptor is reduced by consuming electrons, while an electron donor is oxidized, releasing electrons. The process of transfer of electrons, downhill the energy curve, from the electron donor to the electron acceptor, releases energy which is used by the living organisms. The electron donors release electrons due to the energy of either chemical reaction or a photochemical one. Therefore, from the point of view of the nature of the electron donor reaction, all known living organisms are classified into two groups:

  • Chemotrophs
  • Phototrophs


The results of this work show that the aerobic chemolithoautotrophic microorganism Acidothiobacillus ferrooxidans, can use electrical current as a sole energy source, i.e. as an electron donor. Therefore, these microorganisms are electrotrophs. This finding can find practical applications in various fields such as electrical protein production and bioelectricity generation.


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