Electroactive microorganisms possess the unique ability to transfer electrons to or from solid phase electron conductors, e.g., electrodes or minerals, through various physiological mechanisms. The processes are commonly known as extracellular electron transfer and broadly harnessed in microbial electrochemical systems, such as microbial biosensors, microbial electrosynthesis, or microbial fuel cells. Apart from a few model microorganisms, the nature of the microbe-electrode conductive interaction is poorly understood for most of the electroactive species. The interaction determines the efficiency and a potential scaling up of bioelectrochemical systems. Gram-positive bacteria generally have a thick electron non-conductive cell wall and are believed to exhibit weak extracellular electron shuttling activity. This review highlights reported research accomplishments on electroactive Gram-positive bacteria. The use of electron-conducting polymers as mediators is considered as one promising strategy to enhance the electron transfer efficiency up to application scale. In view of the recent progress in understanding the molecular aspects of the extracellular electron transfer mechanisms of Enterococcus faecalis, the electron transfer properties of this bacterium are especially focused on. Fundamental knowledge on the nature of microbial extracellular electron transfer and its possibilities can provide insight in interspecies electron transfer and biogeochemical cycling of elements in nature. Additionally, a comprehensive understanding of cell-electrode interactions may help in overcoming insufficient electron transfer and restricted operational performance of various bioelectrochemical systems and facilitate their practical applications.
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