Bioelectrogenesis

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The electric eel uses electric shocks for both hunting and self-defense.

Bioelectrogenesis is the generation of electricity by living organisms, a phenomenon that belongs to the science of electrophysiology. The nerve impulse is a bioelectric event.[1] In biological cells, the Sodium-Potassium Exchanger maintains a voltage imbalance, or cell potential difference, between the inside of the cell and its surroundings (see also ion channel). Also called a pump, the exchanger is said to be "electrogenic," because it removes 3 sodium ions for every two ions of potassium it allows in. The process consumes metabolic energy in the form of ATP. [2] Plant cells also exhibit light-induced electrogenesis.[3] Certain types of bacteria are able to generate electric currents which are used in microbial fuel cells. However the term usually refers to the electricity-generating ability that is in some aquatic creatures, such as the electric eel and to a lesser extent the black ghost knifefish. Fish exhibiting such bioelectrogenesis often also possess electroreceptive abilities (which are more widespread) as part of an integrated electric system.[4] Electrogenesis may be utilized for electrolocation, self-defense, electrocommunication and sometimes the stunning of prey.[5]


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  1. ^ Schoffeniels, E. D.; Mărgineanu, G. (1990). Molecular Basis and Thermodynamics of Bioelectrogenesis. Topics in molecular organization and engineering 5. Springer. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-7923-0975-8. 
  2. ^ Nicholls, John G.; Martin, A. Robert; Fuchs, Paul A.; Brown, David A.; Diamond, Mathew E.; Weisblat, David A. (2012). From Neuron to Brain 5. Sinauer. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-87893-609-0. 
  3. ^ Volkov, A. G. (2006). Plant electrophysiology: theory and methods. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-32717-2. 
  4. ^ Bullock, T. H.; Hopkins, C. D.; Ropper, A. N.; Fay, R. R. (2005). From Electrogenesis to Electroreception: An Overview. Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-23192-1. 
  5. ^ Castello, M. E., A. Rodriguez-Cattaneo, P. A. Aguilera, L. Iribarne, A. C. Pereira, and A. A. Caputi (2009). "Waveform generation in the weakly electric fish Gymnotus coropinae (Hoedeman): the electric organ and the electric organ discharge". Journal of Experimental Biology 212 (9): 1351–1364. doi:10.1242/jeb.022566.