Assoc Prof Ashley FRANKS
In the environment, microbes are commonly found aggregated to each other and/or a surface in what is referred to as a biofilm. Forming biofilms enable microbes to perform unique physiological processes. Our challenge is to understand the microbial biofilms, their function in nature and how these functions can benefit us. In particular, bacterial biofilms that can promote the growth of plants or transfer electrons extracellularly are a focus.
Bacterial interactions with plant roots, a zone referred to as the rhizosphere, can have both beneficial and detrimental effects. Plants can influence microbe activity through root exudates and microbes can affect plant health through biostimulation, biofertilization, biocontrol and infection. These activities involve complex signalling and interactions between the plant and the rhizosphere-associated microbial communities.
Electrode associated biofilms are able to support growth and produce an electrical current through anaerobic respiration utilizing an electrode as an electron acceptor
Some bacterial biofilms are capable of transferring electrons extracellular between cells and to insoluble electron acceptors. While extracellular electron transfer is commonly associated with electricity production by bacteria in microbial fuel cells, microbial extracellular electron transfer is an important environmental process and has applications in bioremediation and in the microbial mediated production of specialty chemicals.
Fundamental to these applied applications is a basic understanding of the microbial processes, interactions and evolution in the biofilm mode of life
For a full list of Dr Franks' up to date publications & links to papers, click HERE
RRR - EINSTEIN A GO-GO:
The SCIENCE SHOW:
Electricity from bacteria
Mud power: how bacteria can turn waste into electricity
World Lab: Episode 16 - The amazing Geobcacter