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Polydopamine—A Bioinspired Polymer to Interface Photosynthetic Bacteria with Electrodes
Gianluca Farinola1,Danilo Vona1,Rossella Labarile1,Gabriella Buscemi1,2,Roberta Ragni1,Maria Varsalona1,2,Francesco Milano3,Matteo Grattieri1,2,Massimo Trotta2
University degli Studi-Bari Aldo Moro1,CNR-IPCF Institute for Physical-Chemical Processes (IPCF), CNR2,CNR-ISPA, Institute of Sciences of Food Production3
Photosynthetic microorganisms are capable of interacting with light by specific proteins, called Reaction Centers (RCs), which are located into cell membranes and convert photons into charge separated states, in a process with efficiency close to 100%. Our work has demonstrated that the light harvesting capability of the RC extracted from Rhodobacter sphaeroides R26 bacterium can be ameliorated by covalently binding tailored molecular organic antennas [1-3]. RCs have been directly exploited in electronic and electrochemical devices , acting as photoactive systems in photoelectrochemical cells , photosensors  and photoactive transistors . Interestingly, intact living photosynthetic bacteria cells can be also integrated in devices for bioelectronic applications . However, the use of conductive artificial materials, like polymers or inorganic electrode surfaces, could lead to detrimental effects for the bacterial viability. Conversely, adhesive biomimetic polymers such as polydopamine (PDA) are promising biocompatible coating materials for application of Rhodobacter sphaeroides R26 bacterial cells in bioelectronics. Here, the approach is based on in situ polymerization of dopamine monomer in cell medium, with the PDA polymer self-assembling around cells, allowing them to thrive by light absorption and ensuring their interaction with conductive electrode surfaces. Polydopamine has been already successfully exploited to stabilize the interface between Rhodobacter sphaeroides RCs with electrodes, avoiding protein denaturation and facilitating the integration in electronic systems [9-10]. Preliminary electrochemical characterization also unveils that PDA layer around living bacterial cells adhered onto electrodes does not alter their viability and it does not hinder the diffusion of mediators and their capability to react at the electrodes.
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