Shewanella oneidensis bacteria attach to and reduce iron oxide in anaerobic conditions via the work of two proteins.

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Shewanella oneidensis “breathes” by attaching itself to particles of iron oxide found in solid minerals, and utilizing the oxygen molecules contained therein. It is thanks to two proteins that this can occur. When ambient oxygen is low, S. oneidensis expresses these proteins, and the proteins bind to and reduce iron oxide. (Courtesy of the Biomimicry Guild)

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“Energy values [in attojoules (10-18 joules)] derived from these measurements show that the affinity between S. oneidensis and goethite rapidly increases by two to five times under anaerobic conditions in which electron transfer from bacterium to mineral is expected. Specific signatures in the force curves suggest that a 150-kilodalton putative iron reductase is mobilized within the outer membrane of S. oneidensis and specifically interacts with the goethite surface to facilitate the electron transfer process.” (Lower et al. 2001:1360)

“We have shown that under anaerobic conditions, S. oneidensis responds to the surface of goethite by rapidly developing stronger adhesion energies at the interface. We interpret these data to indicate that after recognition of goethite as a terminal electron acceptor, S. oneidensis actively mobilizes and/or produces proteins (the 150-kD putative reductase and perhaps others) that specifically interact with the mineral surface.” (Lower et al. 2001:1363)

Journal article
Bacterial recognition surfaces: nanoscale interactions between Shewanella and alpha-FeOOHLower SK; Hochella MF; Beveridge TJ

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