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Electrochemical control of biofilm-forming micro-organisms: screening, identification, and design of new knowledge-based technologies

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Most of the micro-organisms growing in natural environments form biofilms on solid surfaces, that are mainly known for their adverse effects on human health and industrial / consumer's goods. A concept of electrochemically active biofilms has recently emer ged from a few studies discovering that some bacteria forming biofilms on conductive materials can achieve a direct electrochemical connection with the substrate using it as electron exchanger, without the aid of additional mediators. This capability of so me micro-organisms "to plug" their metabolisms directly in an external electrical power supply is very exciting and opens new perspectives for pioneering research. Indeed, the exploitation of micro-organisms natural metabolisms to catalyse or to control el ectrochemical reactions, which naturally occur in our environment or which are created by man, should lead to major technology breakthroughs and the to the development of new products and processes, in many fields like bio-energy, bioremediation, biofou ling prevention, biosynthesis processes, bio-corrosion mitigation and biosensor design. The partners experts in microbiology, electrochemistry, material and chemical engineering will joint efforts in the project during three years, to decipher the mechanis ms responsible for the biofilm's formation, to identify a wide range of micro-organisms capable to colonise different types of industrial materials in different media and under different process conditions, and to assess the feasibility of new technolog ies and applications based on the new concept. The proposed research clearly lies in a multidimensional area with novel multi-disciplinarity, not covered by any of the thematic priorities. It is expected that generic mechanisms and key functions in micro-o rganism's metabolism will be discovered and will allow men controlling a wealth of reactions to open new avenues for progress in science and technology. These leveraging perspectives although encourag

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FP6-2003-NEST-A
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