Skin bacteria mediate glycerol fermentation to produce electricity and resist uv-b

Arun Balasubramaniam, Prakoso Adi, Tra My Do Thi, Jen Ho Yang, Asy Syifa Labibah, Chun Ming Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Bacteria that use electron transport proteins in the membrane to produce electricity in the gut microbiome have been identified recently. However, the identification of electrogenic bacteria in the skin microbiome is almost completely unexplored. Using a ferric iron-based ferrozine assay, we have identified the skin Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis) as an electrogenic bacterial strain. Glycerol fermentation was essential for the electricity production of S. epidermidis since the inhibition of fermentation by 5-methyl furfural (5-MF) significantly diminished the bacterial electricity measured by voltage changes in a microbial fuel cell (MFC). A small-scale chamber with both anode and cathode was fabricated in order to study the effect of ultraviolet-B (UV-B) on electricity production and bacterial resistance to UV-B. Although UV-B lowered bacterial electricity, a prolonged incubation of S. epidermidis in the presence of glycerol promoted fermentation and elicited higher electricity to suppress the effect of UV-B. Furthermore, the addition of glycerol into S. epidermidis enhanced bacterial resistance to UV-B. Electricity produced by human skin commensal bacteria may be used as a dynamic biomarker to reflect the UV radiation in real-time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1092
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Electricity
  • Fermentation
  • Ferrozine
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis)
  • Ultraviolet- B (UV-B)


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