An in situ surface electrochemistry approach towards whole-cell studies: the structure and reactivity of a Geobacter sulfurreducens submonolayer on electrified metal/electrolyte interfaces†
A direct electron transfer process between bacterial cells of electrogenic species Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) and electrified electrode surfaces was studied to exploit the reactivity of Gs submonolayers on gold and silver surfaces. A submonolayer of Gs was prepared and studied to explore specifically the heterogeneous electron transfer properties at the bacteria/electrode interface. In situ microscopic techniques characterised the morphology of the Gs submonolayers under the operating conditions. In addition, complementary in situ spectroscopic techniques that allowed us to access in situ molecular information of the Gs with high surface selectivity and sensitivity were employed. The results provided clear evidence that the outermost cytochrome C in Gs is responsible for the heterogeneous electron transfer, which is in direct contact with the metal electrode. Feasibility of single cell in situ studies under operating conditions was demonstrated where the combination of surface-electrochemical tools at the nano- and micro-scale with microbiological approaches can offer unique opportunities for the emerging field of electro-microbiology to explore processes and interactions between microorganisms and electrical devices.