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Trends in Biotechnology
Vol. 39 (2), 2020, 181-193

Centimeter-Long Microbial Electron Transport for Bioremediation Applications

Yong Yuan1, Lihua Zhou2, Rui Hou1, Yi Wang1, Shungui Zhou3

Guangzhou Key Laboratory Environmental Catalysis and Pollution Control, Guangdong Key Laboratory of Environmental Catalysis and Health Risk Control, School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Institute of Environmental Health and Pollution Control, Guangdong University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, China

Abstract

Microbial bioremediation based on nano- to micrometer-scale electron transport has been intensively studied during the past decade, but its application can be hindered by a deficiency of suitable electron acceptors or slow mass transportation at contaminated sites. Microbial long-distance electron transport (LDET), which can couple spatially separated redox reactions across distances in natural environments, has recently emerged at centimeter-length scales. LDET explains a range of globally important biogeochemical phenomena and overcomes the drawbacks of conventional bioremediation by directly linking distant electron donors and acceptors. Here, we highlight recent research outcomes in examining, characterizing, and engineering LDET, and describe how LDET can be exploited to develop advanced technologies for the bioremediation of soils and sediments.

Keywords: long-distance electron transport; cable bacteria; microbial electrochemical snorkel; conductive materials; bioremediation.

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