Microbial Electrosynthesis by extremophilic electrotrophs
The aim of this project is to screen and characterize pure cultures and communities of electrotrophs enriched from sample of hydrothermal vent systems. These environments have been shown to harbor a natural electrical current by oxidation of sulfur compounds from hydrothermal fluid, transferring their electrons through the conductive chimneys for the reduction of oxygen from the seawater. It has been shown that microbial communities, called electrotrophs, can use this electrical current as sole energy source to fix CO2 into biomass and extracellular organic products. These microorganisms can be use as catalysts to fix anthropogenic CO2 into interesting compounds in Microbial Electrosynthesis Systems (MESs). So far, this technology is mainly limited to production of short fatty acids by acetogens. The screening of novel electrotrophs, with novels electrotrophic pathways, will expand the spectrum of products and our understanding of the mechanisms involved in these metabolisms. Additionally, it will increase our knowledge on the role of these metabolisms in the biogeochemical cycles in hydrothermal systems.