300th Post: Animated GIF of Shewanella extracellular electron transfer: periplasm edition

I can’t think of a better post to serve as my 300th. After a month and a half of teaching myself Autodesk Maya, I present my best animation yet, although it must’ve been by accident. I have two versions (two different file formats). But first, some background.

Many bacteria have developed strategies to grow and thrive within environments absent of oxygen. Instead of using oxygen to “breathe”, bacteria use alternative molecules (alternative electron acceptors) to dump the waste product from respiration (the electron). These molecules can range from bacterium to bacterium. Some of the most common alternative electron acceptors include nitrate, nitrite, and iron. Interestingly, these are some of the most prevalent land pollutants and our knowledge of the types of bacteria that can thrive under these conditions continues to grow. One of the most interesting observations, in my opinion, is the process of extracellular electron transfer, or EET. During EET, the bacteria with this property have devised a method to transfer their waste to their environment without having to actually import potentially dangerous compounds into the cell. Through a elaborate network of specialized proteins able to taxi electrons called cytochromes, bacteria like Geobacter and Shewanella are able to thrive within what we would consider extreme environments.

I’m only uploading one file due to file size, but if anyone is interested in the image sequence in .png to create their own animation with a background image, please feel free to let me know. So, here it is: Enjoy!


A work in progress: scene 2 of extracellular electron transfer as animated GIF

animated bacteria GIF, electron transport chain gif


A definite work in progress. However scene 2 of extracellular electron transfer as an animated GIF is here. The green sphere is iron 3+ that is reduced by the glowing electron exiting the cell via, in this case, MtrB pore protein and MtrF extracellular cytochrome of Shewanella.

Shocking: animated preview of explaining bacterial nanowires

animated biochemistry gif
A model of the protein structure of a Geobacter pilus with the N-terminal phenylalanine in spacefill and colored blue.

I am working on a post about how huge the discoveries that bacteria can conduct electricity can potentially be. This is a simple animation showing a model of a Geopilus with the phenylalanine residues at the amino terminus of each subunit in spacefill and colored blue. It is suggested the electrons leaving the bacterial cell travel along these pili via aromatic amino acids, especially the phenylalanines.

Animated bacteria GIF: What lies within? Glycolysis edition

animated bacteria GIF, microbiology, bacteria gif, animated gif
Glycolysis, the first pathway of sugar metabolism, is what lies within this series

Animated bacteria GIF: What lies within

animated bacteria GIF, microbiology


In case you haven’t noticed, since discovering how to make animated GIFs a couple weeks ago, I can’t stop. This one is a simple reminder that bacteria may be small, but if you look close enough, you will find just how complex they can be.

Bacterial aerotaxis in an oxygen gradient animated GIF. Enjoy!

animated bacteria, chemotaxis, aerotaxis, azospirillum brasilense
Animated/photographic GIF showing the principle of aerotaxis.

For example, Azospirillum brasilense is considered microaerophilic meaning it prefers an environment with a low amount of oxygen. When these cells are placed in a capillary tube, the motile cells navigate the oxygen gradient until they reach the optimum at some distance from the air/water interface (meniscus). They are not sensing to oxygen itself but the space where energy production is optimum. So essentially, the area closer to the meniscus or further away from the band of cells is considered a repellant because energy production drops in the presence of excess oxygen or not enough, respectively.

See also:

Updated animated bacterial chemotaxis GIFs 

Bacteria Chemotaxis Explained with Animated GIFs. Bacterial Behavior in Motion

How do bacteria make decisions? Part 1. 

How do bacteria make decisions? Part 2

MyTH: Week 2 bacteria focus organism: Azospirillum brasilense

Simple animated GIF for “The Bacterial Circus”

Bacteria, chemotaxis, azospirillum, geobacter, animated GIF

A simple GIF to give a look at the complexity of a 1000-ring circus going on in cells all the time. Each ‘ring’ is a different pathway necessary for this generic microbe to survive. Wish I had 40 years to make an accurate depiction of an actual bacterial circus with its 2000 ‘rings’. Enjoy!

Related Articles:

How many rings in a bacterial circus? (mhrussel.wordpress.com)