The Pollution Eating & Power Generating Bacteria
The "anaerobic dehalogenating" bacteria called Desulfitobacterium hafniense (microbiologists, feel free to correct me) has been discovered in the last decade and is able to feed on, and clean up, a variety of chlorinated compounds, solvents and there is even some evidence that it could dechlorinate polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, nasty stuff). And if it didn't seem useful enough to you already, add to that a recent report that tells us that it also produces electricity and is resistant enough to possibly be used in future microbial fuel cell designs. "The bacteria are capable of continuously generating electricity at levels that could be used to operate small electronic devices. As long as the bacteria are fed fuel they are able to produce electricity 24 hours a day," says Charles Milliken of the Medical University of South Carolina, who conducted the research with colleague Harold May. [...]
"These bacteria are very diverse in their metabolic capabilities, including the food that they can consume. That means that these bacteria can convert a large number of different food sources into electricity," says Milliken. "The technology could be used to assist in the reclamation of wastewaters, thereby resulting in the removal of waste and generation of electricity."
Another unique characteristic of these bacteria is that they are the first known spore-forming bacteria shown to continuously generate electricity. A bacterial spore is a dormant stage of growth for the organism and is highly resistant to heat, radiation and drying. Such characteristics could prove useful in future microbial fuel cell designs where the device need not always be operational but must survive long periods of hazardous conditions before being used.
(thanks to WorldChanging for bringing the story to our attention)