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Live-wire bacteria in marine sediments

A major challenge for multicellular organisms is that of supplying every cell with food and oxygen. Nils Risgaard-Petersen and colleagues report a surprising solution to the problem, arrived at by multicelluar filamentous Desulfobulbaceae bacteria several centimetres long, living in the upper layers of marine sediments sampled in Aarhus Bay, Denmark. These organisms seem to function as living electric cables, transporting electrons from sulphides generated in organic matter in deeper anoxic sediments to the oxygen available in the surface layers. These living micro-cables raise a host of topics for future research, and could also find technological applications.

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