Geobacter sulfurreducens’ Unique Metabolism Results in Cells with a High Iron and Lipid Content

Ethan Howley, Dongwon Ki, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, César I. Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Geobacter sulfurreducens is a ubiquitous iron-reducing bacterium in soils, and in engineered systems, it can respire an electrode to produce measurable electric current. Its unique metabolism, heavily dependent on an extensive network of cytochromes, requires a unique cell composition. In this work, we used metallomics, cell fraction and elemental analyses, and transcriptomics to study and analyze the cell composition of G. sulfurreducens. Elemental composition studies (C, H, O, N, and ash content) showed high C:O and H:O ratios of approximately 1.7:1 and 0.25:1, indicative of more reduced cell composition that is consistent with high lipid content. Our study shows that G. sulfurreducens cells have a large amount of iron (2 6 0.2 mg/g dry weight) and lipids (32 6 0.5% dry weight/dry weight) and that this composition does not change whether the cells are grown with a soluble or an insoluble electron acceptor. The high iron concentration, higher than similar microorganisms, is attributed to the production of cytochromes that are abundant in transcriptomic analyses in both solid and soluble electron acceptor growth. The unique cell composition of G. sulfurreducens must be considered when growing this microorganism for lab studies and commercial applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • cell composition
  • Geobacter sulfurreducens
  • iron reduction
  • metalloproteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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