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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Jul;76(13):4151-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00117-10. Epub 2010 May 7.

Disruption of the putative cell surface polysaccharide biosynthesis gene SO3177 in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 enhances adhesion to electrodes and current generation in microbial fuel cells.

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  • 1Hashimoto Light Energy Conversion Project, ERATO/JST, Komaba Open Laboratory, The University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan.


A microbial fuel cell (MFC) was inoculated with a random transposon insertion mutant library of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and operated with lactate as the sole fuel to select for mutants that preferentially grew in it. Agar plate cultivation of the resultant MFC enrichment culture detected an increased number of colonies exhibiting rough morphology. One such isolate, strain 4A, generated 50% more current in an MFC than wild-type MR-1. Determination of the transposon insertion site in strain 4A followed by deletion and complementation experiments revealed that the SO3177 gene, encoding a putative formyltransferase and situated in a cell surface polysaccharide biosynthesis gene cluster, was responsible for the increased current. Transmission electron microscopy showed that a layered structure at the cell surface, stainable with ruthenium red, was impaired in the SO3177 mutant (DeltaSO3177), confirming that SO3177 is involved in the biosynthesis of cell surface polysaccharides. Compared to the wild type, DeltaSO3177 cells preferentially attached to graphite felt anodes in MFCs, while physicochemical analyses revealed that the cell surface of DeltaSO3177 was more hydrophobic. These results demonstrate that cell surface polysaccharides affect not only the cell adhesion to graphite anodes but also the current generation in MFCs.

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