Nevin Manimala Statistics

Theoretical characterisation of electron tunnelling from granular activated carbon to electron accepting organisms in direct interspecies electron transfer

Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 20;12(1):12426. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-15606-8.


Direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) has been identified as an efficient metabolism between symbiotically interacting organisms. One method of DIET uses conductive materials (e.g., granular activated carbon (GAC)) as a medium to shuttle electrons from electron donating organisms (eg., Geobacter metallireducens) to electron accepting organisms (e.g., Geobacter sulfurreducens and Methanosarcina barkeri). Conductive materials such as GAC, become negatively charged in DIET processes due to reduction by electron donating organisms. This high excess electron density in GAC leads to quantum tunnelling of electrons being a significant electron transfer mechanism for DIET. Thus, a theoretical model obeying the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) approximation and Fermi-Dirac statistics was developed and simulated. In the model, the electron tunnelling transfer barrier was described by an effective rectangular barrier. The result of our 1D tunnelling simulations indicates that within 29.4 nm of the GAC, tunnelling can sufficiently supply electrons from GAC to G. sulfurreducens and M. barkeri. The phenomenon of tunnelling may also have significance as a stimulant of chemotaxis for G. sulfurreducens and other electron accepting microbes when attempting to adsorb onto GAC. This study sheds light on quantum tunnelling’s significant potential in both bacterium and archaeon DIET-centric processes.

PMID:35858919 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-022-15606-8

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