Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla –
Human gut shelter is a complex population of micro-organisms. Named gut micro-biota, it exerts a marked influence on our health, in terms of balance and disease development.
However, intestinal bacteria also play a crucial role in maintaining immune and metabolic homeostasis and protecting the human body against pathogens. Looking to that, changed gut bacterial composition has been associated with the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases and infections.
So, with such point, our diet is considered as one of the main drivers in shaping the gut micro-biota across the lifetime.
We know that bacteria produce electricity outside environments like mines and at the bottom of lakes. Yet scientists have missed another source which is much closer than our home! Have we thought about our GUT?
The fact that so many bugs that interact with humans, either as pathogens or in our micro-biota, as I mentioned above, or involved in the fermentation of human products. They are electro genic — that had been missed before.
It could tell us a lot about how these bacteria infect us or help us to have a healthy gut.
A study done by the University of California (USA) has helped unravel the secrets of our gut bacteria. The result of the study is good news for those currently trying to create living batteries from microbes!
Looking to that we know from previous studies that bacteria generate electricity for the same reason we breathe oxygen and that to remove electrons produced during metabolism and support energy production, moreover it is used as an electrode to measure the electric current that streams from the bacteria — up to 500 microamps — to confirm that the bacteria is electrogenic!
According to the study, the reason why these organisms produce electricity is linked to the microbial metabolism and this process aids in energy production. To survive in a non-oxygen environment, like the human gut, we need to find another molecule to accept the electrons.
In the case of electricity generators, this is a metal outside of the bacterial cell. Finally, I believe that’s how our understanding how different bacteria interact with our digestive system. It’s worth asking a question that whether this has anything to do with our gut’s influence over our emotions and decision making.
A time may come when a physician will consider delivering electric shocks to the specific nerve, which runs into our gut, which might cure depression when drugs don’t work!
Believe it or not, electrodes placed in a jar full of bacteria can produce up to half a millivolt of electricity. I think we need to realise this and think in the near future, how we could potentially manipulate the new discovery towards human benefits!
Dr Yousuf Ali Almulla, MD, Ministry of Health. He is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column, he can be contacted at: