Dancing in the Mud: Cut Cable Puts an End to Bacterial Party
Published:12 May2023    Source:Aarhus University
The party-poopers cutting the cable bacteria are researchers from the Center for Electromicrobiology (CEM) at Aarhus University. The centre's work focuses on unravelling the mysteries of how cable bacteria work.
Cable bacteria are centimeter long, wire-shaped bacteria equipped with internal wiring that transports electrons between oxygen-rich and oxygen-free "dead" zones in the muddy seabed.
The first person to stop the dance was PhD student Jesper Jensen Bjerg. Many years ago, he was sitting in a laboratory at the University of Vienna, struggling to follow the transport of electrons in cable bacteria by measuring the differences in the amount of electrons present in the bacteria's cytochrome proteins. (The protein is important for the energy metabolism of cells.)

"As I became more and more impatient, I suddenly discovered something unexpected in the microscope: Hundreds of different bacteria flocked around the part of a cable bacteria that was in an oxygen-free environment. It looked like they were dancing and having a great time," says Jesper Jensen Bjerg, who is now a postdoc at CEM.