Geobacteracea are distinct for their ability to reduce insoluble oxidants including minerals and electrodes without apparent reliance on soluble extracellular electron transfer (ET) mediators. This property makes them important anode catalysts in new generation microbial fuel cells (MFCs) because it obviates the need to replenish ET mediators otherwise necessary to sustain power. Here we report cyclic voltammetry (CV) of biofilms of wild type (WT) and mutant G. sulfurreducens strains grown on graphite cloth anodes acting as electron acceptors with acetate as the electron donor. Our analysis indicates that WT biofilms contain a conductive network of bound ET mediators in which OmcZ (outer membrane c-type cytochrome Z) participates in homogeneous ET (through the biofilm bulk) while OmcB mediates heterogeneous ET (across the biofilm/electrode interface); that type IV pili are important in both reactions; that OmcS plays a secondary role in homogenous ET; that OmcE, important in Fe(III) oxide reduction, is not involved in either reaction; that catalytic current is limited overall by the rate of microbial uptake of acetate; that protons generated from acetate oxidation act as charge compensating ions in homogenous ET; and that homogenous ET, when accelerated by fast voltammetric scan rates, is limited by diffusion of protons within the biofilm. These results provide the first direct electrochemical evidence substantiating utilization of bound ET mediators by Geobacter biofilms and the distinct roles of OmcB and OmcZ in the extracellular ET properties of anode-reducing G. sulfurreducens.
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