A Bioelectrochemical Approach to Characterize Extracellular Electron Transfer by Synechocystis sp. PCC6803
Biophotovoltaic devices employ photosynthetic organisms at the anode of a microbial fuel cell to generate electrical power. Although a range of cyanobacteria and algae have been shown to generate photocurrent in devices of a multitude of architectures, mechanistic understanding of extracellular electron transfer by phototrophs remains minimal. Here we describe a mediatorless bioelectrochemical device to measure the electrogenic output of a planktonically grown cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Light dependent production of current is measured, and its magnitude is shown to scale with microbial cell concentration and light intensity. Bioelectrochemical characterization of a Synechocystis mutant lacking Photosystem II demonstrates conclusively that production of the majority of photocurrent requires a functional water splitting aparatus and electrons are likely ultimately derived from water. This shows the potential of the device to rapidly and quantitatively characterize photocurrent production by genetically modified strains, an approach that can be used in future studies to delineate the mechanisms of cyanobacterial extracellular electron transport.