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Label-Free Probing of Electron Transfer Kinetics of Single Microbial Cells on a Single-Layer Graphene via Structural Color Microscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 02.09.2021, 00:29 by Qing Xia, Xueqin Chen, Changhong Liu, Rong-Bin Song, Zixuan Chen, Jianrong Zhang, Jun-Jie Zhu
Studies of electron transfer at the population level veil the nature of the cell itself; however, in situ probing of the electron transfer dynamics of individual cells is still challenging. Here we propose label-free structural color microscopy for this aim. We demonstrate that Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 cells show unique structural color scattering, changing with the redox state of cytochrome complexes in the outer membrane. It enables quantitatively and noninvasive studies of electron transfer in single microbial cells during bioelectrochemical activities, such as extracellular electron transfer (EET) on a transparent single-layer graphene electrode. Increasing the applied potential leads to the associated EET current, accompanied by more oxidized cytochromes. The high spatiotemporal resolution of the proposed method not only demonstrates the large diversity in EET activity among microbial cells but also reveals the subcellular asymmetric distribution of active cytochromes in a single cell. We anticipate that it provides a potential platform for further exploring the electron transfer mechanism of subcellular structure.

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