Bacteria have long been fighting on the front lines of uranium-contaminated groundwater. Their ability to take uranium out of a solution and mineralize it has proven invaluable at abandoned uranium mines. The mechanism by which they accomplish this fortunate feat has remained a mystery--until now. [...]
So, do these bacteria produce an enzyme that helps them process uranium in this way, or is there something else going on? That's been the question for some time now. A group of microbiologists suspected that pili--tiny, thread-like appendages on the surface of many bacteria--might have something to do with it. [...]
The second study discovered that the pili of that same Geobacter species are electrically conductive. In fact, they are just as conductive as metallic nanowires. As if the first example of metal-like conductivity in a biological structure wasn't enough, the researchers were even able to get films of these bacteria to function as transistors.
Helpful uranium-munching bacteria breathe it through electric wires
Current Music: Ume -- The Conductor ♬