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electrosynthetic bacteria

bacteria that live off AC fields
  (+5, -7)
(+5, -7)
  [vote for,

everyone knows plants make a living from a little bit of earth, a lot of air n photons

I think bacteria could be developed that use ac fields as an energy source

proton pumps that use atp to move ions to do cytoprocesses could run from ac current applied to the cytomembrane; its just a way to put pulsatile ion pressure on the proton pumps so they make atpish chemicals rather than use them

note: theres a little humor value there

Its possible that moist remote electrical stations have these bacteria lurking on them now; a new kind of organism to be characterized

the benefit to humans is that engineered as GI tract bacteria electrosynthetic organisms could make food like volatile fatty acids from near area EM fields; I'm thinking a few KW hours or less than a quarters worth of electricity each d

then, with breeder reactors we could just sit around the office all day playing online

electrosynthetic bacteria could completely change the nature of nature creatures that historically ate other creatures could just lay around plumping up

beanangel, Mar 13 2008

Pyrolithotrophs Pyrolithotrophs
Similar idea, but these putative critters eat heat. [bungston, Mar 13 2008]

Magnetic bacteria http://www.sciencea...ata_trunc_sys.shtml
[bungston, Mar 14 2008]

well, at least a virus http://www.techspot...-of-the-future.html
[theircompetitor, May 14 2012]


       I'm getting better at this. I knew it was you from the title on the "recent" page.
normzone, Mar 13 2008

       I actually think they might be alive on the side of some transfomer   

       I think a researcher would be keen on finding these
beanangel, Mar 13 2008

       //note: theres a little humor value there// It's most considerate of you to point out the humour (nb sp.) in your work.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 13 2008

       Interesting idea.   

       OK, numbers. You're looking at something on the order of 100mV across an ATP-coupled ion transporter (ie, between the inside and the outside of the cell).   

       How do you impose this voltage gradient (equivalent, incidentally, to something in excess of 100kV per metre)? Can you create this with a field?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 13 2008

       well, there are bacteria that crystallize metals from their surroundings   

       there are conductive polymers   

       there are funny looking windshield antennas that appear as an array of dots rather than a line   

       it might be that an oscillating magnetic field could nduce electrical charge at crystallized metal which would be separated with membranes; a crude genetic approach would be putting the makemetalliccrystals gene at the mitochondrial genome to create a place where when mitochondria membranes were made so were metallic crystals   

       then you try out the oscillating magnetic field to see if it affects the bacteria; if it does you combine breeding n plentiful oscillating magnetism to find bacteria that use electricity   

       if we look at a part of the neuron structure (linear conductor with myelin surface) stuffed with either conductive polymer or the described metallic crystals you get an antenna; the windshield dot array antennas suggest that cleverness of colony size could compensate for frequency aspects   

       another fairly weird possibility is that the perimeter of a bacteria with a central region with crystallized metal to pick up EM (kind of like those (o) decorative lightning spheres) would always have a charge differential if the pile of bacterial goop had ground
beanangel, Mar 13 2008

       Oh dear. It was all going so well. I'm afraid this is back to gibberish again.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 13 2008

       All you are asking for is a way to imbue cells with protons so that they don't have to work to do it. Which AC current, last I checked, does not do.   

       Anyone can invent false logic, but only [treon] can commit to it.
daseva, Mar 13 2008

       The basic idea of using an applied voltage to drive biochemistry is OK. Most things use biochemistry to create an applied voltage (or at least to move ions), but there's no reason not to reverse it. The problem is that all the details Treon suggests are not thought out.   

       This is what is so frustrating about Treon. I worked with (employed) someone like this once. They spent all of their time coming up with sweeping statements and, consequently, came up with a few good ones because they weren't bogged down with the practicalities.   

       It's a bit like flying over the desert and pointing at places saying "oil...oil...oil.." - you're bound to be right some of the time, and you can cover a lot of ground by never stopping to dig.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 14 2008

       To have a creature which can turn AC electricity into ATP, it would need to evolve, probably over millions of years. I know humans make AC fields but I thought alternating current was an invention of humanity. Do AC fields exist in nature?
bungston, Mar 14 2008

       [bungston] nifty thought   

       its just possible that there are bacteria that live on electric eels or catfish that might parasitize DC producing organs; the bacteria might be able to use AC as well   

       wikipedia: though working together the organ transmits a signal of about 10V in amplitude at around 25 Hz   

       I'm thinking pulsed DC; if there are bacteria that colonize electric eels they make a plausible firstgen electrosynthetic bacteria   

       [mb] no comment
beanangel, Mar 14 2008

       Good grief - a Treon idea I can actually give a croissant to!
DrCurry, Mar 14 2008

       But here is my AC question again: do AC fields exist in nature?   

       I could imagine a situation where DC current could be used by an organism: the same as an organism using any other sort of energy. The organism would be situated in a place where charge was travelling to ground, and would offer a pathway energetically favorable such that the charge travelled through the organism - then would make this path slightly less favorable by harnessing the transiting charge to do work by generating ATP. Such an environment would have to be on a rock in a freshwater lake - I am having trouble thinking of places where small DC currents occur in nature outside of an organism.
bungston, Mar 14 2008

       I don't have time to research it, but it's possible that AC might exist in nature on the side of a swimming fish. Maybe.   

       But I'm not going to research it, ever, as this is a typical [Treon] "idea". I will, however, present this nice, undulating fishbone for wishful GM.
baconbrain, Mar 14 2008

       Really, how is this an "invention"?   

       All I see is half "WIBGI" half magic, and about a quarter of "it should be this way, so it clearly must be".   

       Oh, and just to be more pedantic: Why would electrical stations need to be "moist" to harbor these bacteria that you feel are likely to already exist (and therefore, by the way, wouldn't be an invention)?   

       If you think the area needs to be moist to support life, consider that you are describing an organism which lives off electricity. It seems just as likely for it to require water for its daily operations as any other molecule or element. Why can't it require iron or something more likely for an electronic being?   

       Alternately, you think the environment has to be moist in order to conduct the electricity to the organism, in which case I would be remiss if I didn't point out that a pool of water around an organism is not likely to conduct electricity to that organism unless that organism is included in a shorter path to ground.
ericscottf, Mar 14 2008

       There are plenty of fish that use electrical pulses as a sense. Typically, they create brief pulses of electricity (I don't think any of them do a 50Hz sine wave), and sense the distortion to the field caused by nearby objects.   

       The pulses are generated by mechanisms similar to those used by electric eels, though the voltage is much smaller.   

       This "electric radar" has evolved independently at least twice in fish. Strangely (but truly) some species have a positive-pulsing front end and others have a negative-pulsing front end.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 14 2008

       Yeah, a perfect sine wave is an artifact of a rotating generator. The chances of hitting that with anything else is slim. Pulsed DC, sawtooth waves, there are many ways to vary a signal.   

       Sucking power out of an electric field requires some sort of antenna, which has to be a certain length, which is way longer than any bacteria. (Fun fact: A small AM radio will run itself off the signal a large antenna intercepts--but that's not to support this idea, rather to illustrate that you need a big antenna.)   

       Oddly similar to the premise of this "idea", but not to be taken as an endorsement of it, is seen in the rusting of metals. Two different metals in close contact in seawater could provide an electric potential sufficient and small enough for bacteria to use. That's where to look for electrophages, not in an electric field.   

       I'm not explaining that any better, but I am going to go look up "rusticles". Those are the weird thingies that grow on the wrecked Titanic.   

       From something about "Rusticles" : "Bacteria belonging to the Thiobacillus-Ferrobacillus group possess enzyme systems that transfer electrons from ferrous iron to oxygen, and this transfer results in ferric iron, water, and some free energy is used metabolically by the bacteria (Cole 1988)." Which is not an AC field at all, and not electrophagy, just metabolizing iron.
baconbrain, Mar 14 2008

       [bacon] - your indirect point is that the conditions which exist to generate an electrical field probably lend themselves to more conventional modes of metabolism. For example, these iron metabolizers, which exist at the junction of aerobic and anaerobic environments - it is these sort of junction environments that probably also sustain small currents.
bungston, Mar 14 2008

       Thank you, [bungston]. Well put.   

       I was starting to wonder if I had a point. Reading [Treon] makes my ganglia twitch.
baconbrain, Mar 14 2008

       It is very hard to harness EMR to power the chemical reactions that cells use to store enery. Note that while neurons are very capable of utilizing current they do so with ionic gradients. EMR does not cause ionic gradients nor can it be harnessed directly to produce said gradients as walls of cells do not present a barrier to the field. A mechanism, possibly one that functioned on a micromollecular scale as photosyntheseis seems to would be required. As there are no natural sources of EMR in the ranges that you are talking about the mechanism does not exist. The major issue here seems to be wavelength and the optimum size of your antenna molecule. When you get really small scalability gets really important.
WcW, Mar 14 2008

       I wonder if those magnetic bacteria might be up to something like this. Linked is a paper is which they suggest the magnets are used for compasslike orientation but I am skeptical. Maybe they are making antennae.   

       Or, if a bacterium contained a piece of metal like this, movement of the magnet should generate a tame current which the bacteria could then use to power their various appliances.
bungston, Mar 14 2008

       I think that WcW has written the most considered explanation so far of why this will be problematic. I don't think magnetic bacteria will help you.   

       Actually, hang on. Thought. Need cigarette. Don't go away.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 14 2008


       ATP synthase and ATPases are basically the same enzyme complex running in different directions. In the first case, you use a chemical gradient to turn a little protein rotor which then cranks out ATP; in the second, you split ATP to turn the rotor, which can either pump something against a concentration gradient or (in the case of a bacterial flagellum) just act as a motor.   

       So, suppose you take a bacterial flagellum and drive it backwards, what's it going to do? It's going to work like an ATP synthase and make ATP - basic microreversibility. It may not be very efficient, but evolution won't find it hard to tweak it, as it has done many times before.   

       So, so. You now need some way to drive rotary motion in a flagellum using an applied field. This isn't impossible - just not straightforward.   

       Incidentally, plenty of work's been done on ATPases, including forcing them to run backwards. They're basically nature's little stepper-motors.   

       So, not as unfeasible as I'd first thought.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 14 2008

       It runs in to the same problems that trying to make a tweeter reproduce bass has. Amplitude and wavelength are important.
WcW, Mar 15 2008

       I've noticed antenna made up of dots on windshields; I'm thinking a ()()()()()()() bacterial form could accomplish similar wavelength variant absorption
beanangel, Mar 15 2008

       Those could amount to the 'director' parasitic elements of a Yagi RF antenna design. Look up 'Yagi' to see how a series of apparently unconnected passive elements has value to a single dipole at the end of the series.
Ian Tindale, Mar 15 2008

       Does the Yagi antenna design explain why they always look so serene and all- knowing? Are they actually receiving secret messages through an antenna on their sitar?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 15 2008

       I've been looking for an idea like this for quite awhile: If we could grow bacteria on eletricity, then why not plants? If we can grow plants on electricity, they could be used to feed people. And if they could be used to feed people, they could be used as food during spaceflight.   

       Unfortunately I am only a sophomore in high school and have not had enough biology & organic chemistry to understand everything that was written in the idea & the replies, but I know if it was ever created, I would figure out how to make use of it.   

       From what I do understand, bacteria have structures similar to wires that can conduct electricity. If bacteria could be genetically engineered to attach these ti the cells' mitochondria, maybe modified ones (more GE), then I see no reason why the same structures couldn't be applied to plants.
truth14ful, Apr 16 2011

       This post is utter nonsense. Please stay in school. We already have a great way of powering plants with light.
WcW, Apr 17 2011

       Ah but of course with nanomachines you could do spot surgery on the cells and not have to GE them.
FlyingToaster, Apr 17 2011

       Geobacter apparently produces electricity.
baconbrain, Apr 17 2011

       Too much like a microbial fuel cell.
travbm, Oct 29 2015


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