Direct microbial electron uptake as a mechanism for stainless steel corrosion in aerobic environments.

TitleDirect microbial electron uptake as a mechanism for stainless steel corrosion in aerobic environments.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsZhou E, Li F, Zhang D, Xu D, Li Z, Jia R, Jin Y, Song H, Li H, Wang Q, Wang J, Li X, Gu T, Homborg AM, Mol JMC, Smith JA, Wang F, Lovley DR
JournalWater Res
Date Published2022 Jul 01
KeywordsBiofilms, Corrosion, Electron Transport, Electrons, Metals, Oxidation-Reduction, Stainless Steel, Steel

Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 is an attractive model microbe for elucidating the biofilm-metal interactions that contribute to the billions of dollars in corrosion damage to industrial applications each year. Multiple mechanisms for S. oneidensis-enhanced corrosion have been proposed, but none of these mechanisms have previously been rigorously investigated with methods that rule out alternative routes for electron transfer. We found that S. oneidensis grown under aerobic conditions formed thick biofilms (∼50 µm) on stainless steel coupons, accelerating corrosion over sterile controls. H and flavins were ruled out as intermediary electron carriers because stainless steel did not reduce riboflavin and previous studies have demonstrated stainless does not generate H. Strain ∆mtrCBA, in which the genes for the most abundant porin-cytochrome conduit in S. oneidensis were deleted, corroded stainless steel substantially less than wild-type in aerobic cultures. Wild-type biofilms readily reduced nitrate with stainless steel as the sole electron donor under anaerobic conditions, but strain ∆mtrCBA did not. These results demonstrate that S. oneidensis can directly consume electrons from iron-containing metals and illustrate how direct metal-to-microbe electron transfer can be an important route for corrosion, even in aerobic environments.

Alternate JournalWater Res
PubMed ID35561622