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Shewanella oneidensis Bacteria Found to Breathe Iron

EMSL Analytical analyzes for a variety of bacteria in environmental samples.


According to R&D Magazine, researchers have discovered that when proteins on the surface of bacteria touch a mineral surface, the bacteria produces an electric current allowing it to breathe iron the way humans breathe oxygen.

Researchers believe that by understanding how the bacteria are able to breathe iron, they will be able to use the microbes for cleaning up soil contaminants, trapping carbon dioxide, and making batteries. The finding is also important for understanding how carbon goes through the atmosphere, land, and oceans. Once researchers understand electron transfer, they believe they will understand how bacteria control the carbon cycle.

To further their studies, researchers replicated bacteria using the proteins believed to transfer the electron to the iron. By inserting these proteins into lipid layers of vesicles, researchers discovered that the proteins projected through the lipid bubbles in the same way they do in real bacteria, known as Shewanella oneidensis.

Additional testing also revealed that the proteins used in this study were the only type the bacteria needed to produce electricity.

Sheawanella oneidensis are anaerobic bacteria found primary in deep sea environments, soil, and sedentary habitats,” states Dr. Jason Dobranic, EMSL Analytical Inc.’s Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences. “EMSL Analytical’s microbiology division utilizes advanced testing methods to detect microorganisms in environmental samples at our fully equipped and accredited laboratories nationwide.”

For more information on EMSL’s testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, email , or visit

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical, Inc. is a full service testing company providing quality lab services under the same private ownership since 1981. Including the corporate lab facility in Cinnaminson, NJ, EMSL Analytical operates over thirty laboratories nationwide in the US and Canada. We provide analytical services for environmental, indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, forensics and materials science, consumer products, food safety, PCR, pharmaceutical, asbestos, lead, and radiological samples. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations, as well as state and federal regulating bodies. Please see our website for a complete listing of accreditations.


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