Skip to main content
Electrosynthesis of Organic Compounds from Carbon Dioxide Catalyzed by a Diversity of Acetogenic Microorganisms
Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2011)
  • Kelly P Nevin, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Sarah A Hensley
  • Ashley E Franks
  • Zarath M Summers
  • Jianhong Ou
  • Trevor L Woodard, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Oona L Snoeyenbos-West
  • Derek Lovley, University of Massachusetts - Amherst

Microbial electrosynthesis, a process in which microorganisms use electrons derived from electrodes to reduce carbon dioxide to multi-carbon, extracellular organic compounds, is a potential strategy for capturing electrical energy in carbon-carbon bonds of readily stored and easily distributed products, such as transportation fuels. To date, only one organism, the acetogen, Sporomusa ovata, has been shown to be capable of electrosynthesis. The purpose of this study was to determine if a wider range of microorganisms might be capable of this process. Several other acetogenic bacteria, including two other Sporomusa species, Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium aceticum, and Moorella thermoacetica consumed current with the production of organic acids. In general acetate was the primary product, but 2-oxobutyrate and formate were also formed with 2-oxobutyrate being the predominant identified product of electrosynthesis by C. aceticum. S. sphaeroides, C. ljungdahlii, and M. thermoacetica had high (> 80 %) efficiencies of electrons consumed recovered in identified products. The acetogen Acetobacterium woodii was unable to consume current. These results expand the known range of microorganisms capable of electrosynthesis, providing multiple options for the further optimization of this process.

Publication Date
March 4, 2011
Publisher Statement
DOI: 10.1128/​AEM.02642-10
Citation Information
Kelly P Nevin, Sarah A Hensley, Ashley E Franks, Zarath M Summers, et al.. "Electrosynthesis of Organic Compounds from Carbon Dioxide Catalyzed by a Diversity of Acetogenic Microorganisms" Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2011)
Available at: