C-MOULD is a unique collection, and knowledge base, for microorganisms that have application within the arts. Our latest acquisition is the bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Visually uninspiring, this bacterium reveals an amazing secret when viewed under a powerful microscope. It produces electrically conductive pilus-like appendages called bacterial nanowires. The bacterium can use these structures to transport electrons, allowing them to perhaps build intricate biological circuits, to communicate electronically or share electrical energy.
Nanowires may also allow electron transfer “between the living and the non-living world, between cells and inorganic systems,” and could in the future form the basis of semiconducting biomaterials for making bioelectronics.