Skip to main content Accessibility help

Peptide-mediated binding of gold nanoparticles to E. coli for enhanced microbial fuel cell power generation

  • Justin P. Jahnke (a1), Hong Dong (a1), Deborah A. Sarkes (a1), James J. Sumner (a1), Dimitra N. Stratis-Cullum (a1) and Margaret M. Hurley (a1)...


The authors demonstrate that gold-binding peptides displayed on the outer membrane of Escherichia coli enhance bioelectrochemical charge transfer by binding gold nanoparticles. Microbial fuel cells were run with different gold-binding peptides displayed and with different nanoparticle sizes, and the results were correlated with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging of nanoparticle binding. When a gold-binding peptide is displayed and 5 nm gold nanoparticles are present, up to 4× power generation over E. coli not displaying a gold-binding peptide is observed. While an enhanced current is observed using the previously published M6G9, the largest enhancement is observed when a new longer peptide named M9G18 is used.


Corresponding author

Address all correspondence to Justin P. Jahnke at


Hide All
1.Logan, B.E., Wallack, M.J., Kim, K.-Y., He, W., Feng, Y., and Saikaly, P.E.: Assessment of microbial fuel cell configurations and power densities. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2, 206 (2015).
2.Venkata Mohan, S., Velvizhi, G., Annie Modestra, J., and Srikanth, S.: Microbial fuel cell: critical factors regulating bio-catalyzed electrochemical process and recent advancements. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 40, 779 (2014).
3.Tremblay, P.-L. and Zhang, T.: Electrifying microbes for the production of chemicals. Front. Microbiol 6, 201 (2015).
4.Fraiwan, A. and Choi, S.: A stackable, two-chambered, paper-based microbial fuel cell. Biosens. Bioelectron. 83, 27 (2016).
5.Tschirhart, T., Kim, E., McKay, R., Ueda, H., Wu, H.-C., Pottash, A.E., Zargar, A., Negrete, A., Shiloach, J., Payne, G.F., and Bentley, W.E.: Electronic control of gene expression and cell behaviour in Escherichia coli through redox signalling. Nat. Commun. 8, 14030 (2017).
6.Jahnke, J.P., Bazan, G.C., and Sumner, J.J.: Effect of modified phospholipid bilayers on the electrochemical activity of a membrane-spanning conjugated oligoelectrolyte. Langmuir 31, 11613 (2015).
7.Du, J., Catania, C., and Bazan, G.C.: Modification of abiotic–biotic interfaces with small molecules and nanomaterials for improved bioelectronics. Chem. Mater. 26, 686697 (2014).
8.Sund, C., McMasters, S., Crittenden, S., Harrell, L., and Sumner, J.: Effect of electron mediators on current generation and fermentation in a microbial fuel cell. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 76, 561 (2007).
9.Popov, A.L., Kim, J.R., Dinsdale, R.M., Esteves, S.R., Guwy, A.J., and Premier, G.C.: The effect of physico-chemically immobilized methylene blue and neutral red on the anode of microbial fuel cell. Biotechnol. Bioprocess Eng. 17, 361 (2012).
10.Fan, Y., Xu, S., Schaller, R., Jiao, J., Chaplen, F., and Liu, H.: Nanoparticle decorated anodes for enhanced current generation in microbial electrochemical cells. Biosens. Bioelectron. 26, 1908 (2011).
11.Xu, S., Liu, H., Fan, Y., Schaller, R., Jiao, J., and Chaplen, F.: Enhanced performance and mechanism study of microbial electrolysis cells using Fe nanoparticle-decorated anodes. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 93, 871 (2012).
12.Chen, M., Zhou, X., Liu, X., Zeng, R.J., Zhang, F., Ye, J., and Zhou, S.: Facilitated extracellular electron transfer of Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilm with in situ formed gold nanoparticles. Biosens. Bioelectron 108, 20 (2018).
13.Jiang, X., Hu, J., Lieber, A.M., Jackan, C.S., Biffinger, J.C., Fitzgerald, L.A., Ringeisen, B.R., and Lieber, C.M.: Nanoparticle facilitated extracellular electron transfer in microbial fuel cells. Nano Lett. 14, 6737 (2014).
14.Catania, C., Ajo-Franklin, C.M., and Bazan, G.C.: Membrane permeabilization by conjugated oligoelectrolytes accelerates whole-cell catalysis. RSC Adv. 6, 100300 (2016).
15.Jahnke, J.P., Cornejo, J.A., Sumner, J.J., Schuler, A.J., Atanassov, P., and Ista, L.K.: Conjugated gold nanoparticles as a tool for probing the bacterial cell envelope: the case of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Biointerphases 11, 011003 (2016).
16.Saha, K., Agasti, S.S., Kim, C., Li, X., and Rotello, V.M.: Gold nanoparticles in chemical and biological sensing. Chem. Rev. 112, 2739 (2012).
17.Petrova, O.E. and Sauer, K.: Sticky situations: key components that control bacterial surface attachment. J. Bacteriol. 194, 2413 (2012).
18.Naik, R.R., Stringer, S.J., Agarwal, G., Jones, S.E., and Stone, M.O.: Biomimetic synthesis and patterning of silver nanoparticles. Nat. Mater. 1, 169 (2002).
19.Dong, H., Sarkes, D.A., Rice, J.J., Hurley, M.M., Fu, A.J., and Stratis-Cullum, D.N.: Living bacteria–nanoparticle hybrids mediated through surface-displayed peptides. Langmuir 34, 5837 (2018).
20.Hou, H., Chen, X., Thomas, A.W., Catania, C., Kirchhofer, N.D., Garner, L.E., Han, A., and Bazan, G.C.: Conjugated oligoelectrolytes increase power generation in E. coli microbial fuel cells. Adv. Mater. 25, 1593 (2013).
21.Hou, H., Li, L., Cho, Y., de Figueiredo, P., and Han, A.: Microfabricated microbial fuel cell arrays reveal electrochemically active microbes. PLoS ONE 4, e6570 (2009).
22.Zheng, K., Setyawati, M.I., Leong, D.T., and Xie, J.: Antimicrobial gold nanoclusters. ACS Nano 11, 6904 (2017).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

MRS Communications
  • ISSN: 2159-6859
  • EISSN: 2159-6867
  • URL: /core/journals/mrs-communications
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Jahnke et al. supplementary material
Jahnke et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (227 KB)
227 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed