Initial development and structure of biofilms on microbial fuel cell anodes

Read, Suzanne T., Dutta, Paritam, Bond, Philip L., Keller, Jurg and Rabaey, Korneel (2010) Initial development and structure of biofilms on microbial fuel cell anodes. B M C Microbiology, 10 Article number 98: . doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-98


Author Read, Suzanne T.
Dutta, Paritam
Bond, Philip L.
Keller, Jurg
Rabaey, Korneel
Title Initial development and structure of biofilms on microbial fuel cell anodes
Journal name B M C Microbiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2180
Publication date 2010-04-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1471-2180-10-98
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue Article number 98
Total pages 10
Editor Melissa Norton
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) rely on electrochemically active bacteria to capture the chemical energy contained in organics and convert it to electrical energy. Bacteria develop biofilms on the MFC electrodes, allowing considerable conversion capacity and opportunities for extracellular electron transfer (EET). The present knowledge on EET is centred around two Gram-negative models, i.e. Shewanella and Geobacter species, as it is believed that Gram-positives cannot perform EET by themselves as the Gram-negatives can. To understand how bacteria form biofilms within MFCs and how their development, structure and viability affects electron transfer, we performed pure and co-culture experiments.

Results
Biofilm viability was maintained highest nearer the anode during closed circuit operation (current flowing), in contrast to when the anode was in open circuit (soluble electron acceptor) where viability was highest on top of the biofilm, furthest from the anode. Closed circuit anode Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms were considerably thinner compared to the open circuit anode (30 ± 3 μm and 42 ± 3 μm respectively), which is likely due to the higher energetic gain of soluble electron acceptors used. The two Gram-positive bacteria used only provided a fraction of current produced by the Gram-negative organisms. Power output of co-cultures Gram-positive Enterococcus faecium and either Gram-negative organisms, increased by 30-70% relative to the single cultures. Over time the co-culture biofilms segregated, in particular, Pseudomonas aeruginosa creating towers piercing through a thin, uniform layer of Enterococcus faecium. P. aeruginosa and E. faecium together generated a current of 1.8 ± 0.4 mA while alone they produced 0.9 ± 0.01 and 0.2 ± 0.05 mA respectively.

Conclusion

We postulate that this segregation may be an essential difference in strategy for electron transfer and substrate capture between the Gram-negative and the Gram-positive bacteria used here.
Keyword Microbial fuel cell
EET
Anode biofilms
MFC
Reactor
Targeted oligonucleotide probes
Community
Waste-water treatment
Electron-transfer
Identification
Oxide reduction
Bacteria
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Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Fri, 23 Jul 2010, 13:03:36 EST by Hong Lee on behalf of Advanced Water Management Centre