Hydrogen is a useful and clean energy source, and it can be obtained from bacteria such as Rhodopseudomonas palustris. Bruce Logan of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and his collaborators have found that this bacterium has another potentially useful skill: it can produce an electric current.
The researchers extracted R. palustris from a microbial fuel cell — a device in which bacteria deliver electrons derived from the oxidation of foodstuffs to an electrode, thus producing current. After culturing, this strain did the job more efficiently on its own than it had in the mixed bacterial population from which it came. The work might lead to the development of systems that capture electricity or hydrogen from the same cultures.