When this bacteria are deprived of oxygen and iron they start growing hairs as the ‘electronic equivalent of a snorkel’ to connect each other as a communal lung network.

‘Shewanella turned out to be a particularly intriguing case. Reducing oxygen is its true métier, but deprive it of oxygen and it will reduce iron instead. In 2003, Yuri Gorby, then at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington state, put Shewanella in a closed environment with scant iron and oxygen. By rights, the bacteria should have been slowly asphyxiated. They weren’t. Instead, they started growing hairs’.

© Derek Lovley, Kelly Nevin & Ben Barnhart, University of Massachusetts

© Derek Lovley, Kelly Nevin & Ben Barnhart, University of Massachusetts

Read more:

http://www.geobacter.org/press/NewScientist-12-22-2010.pdf