The bacteria only need electricity to survive. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 ESO/M. Kornmesser
Scientists have identified extraordinary types of bacteria that literally live and breath electrons.
They might sound like something from a science fiction movie but these "electric bacteria" are genuine microorganisms that have evolved the ability to make use of energy in its purest form.
Two types are currently known, Shewanella and Geobacter, however scientists have been discovering even more by enticing them out of rocks and sediment using electrical bait.
Researcher Kenneth Nealson and his team at the University of Southern California are now experimenting with these new bacteria by growing them directly on electrodes and keeping them alive using nothing but a source of electricity.
In humans this would be the equivalent of surviving indefinitely off of an electrical outlet.
"It is truly foreign," said Nealson. "In a sense, alien."