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Now microbes can create energy, too

Marc Perton

We assume that, off in some lab, down in a petri dish, there's a serious grudge match going on. How else to explain the fact that, mere weeks after we first heard that scientists were training viruses to create electricity, there's an announcement that another lab-coated team is coaxing microbes to produce power as well? This time, the action is at Ghent University in Belgium, where researchers have found that certain microbes are able to break down organic matter in water and produce electricity in the process. One species in particular, Brevibacillus agri, turned out to be particularly adept at turning sludge into juice, and may someday form the basis of organic fuel cells. If the virii don't get there first, that is.

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