Alamethicin suppresses methanogenesis and promotes acetogenesis in bioelectrochemical systems

Xiuping Zhu, Michael Siegert, Matthew D. Yates, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Microbial electrosynthesis (MES) systems with mixed cultures often generate a variety of gaseous and soluble chemicals. Methane is the primary end product in mixed-culture MES because it is the thermodynamically most favorable reduction product of CO2. Here, we show that the peptaibol alamethicin selectively suppressed the growth of methanogens in mixed-culture MES systems, resulting in a shift of the solution and cathode communities to an acetate-producing system dominated by Sporomusa, a known acetogenic genus in MES systems. Archaea in the methane-producing control were dominated by Methanobrevibacter species, but no Archaea were detected in the alamethicin-treated reactors. No methane was detected in the mixed-culture reactors treated with alamethicin over 10 cycles (~3 days each). Instead, acetate was produced at an average rate of 115 nmol ml-1 day-1, similar to the rate reported previously for pure cultures of Sporomusa ovata on biocathodes. Mixed-culture control reactors without alamethicin generated methane at nearly 100% coulombic recovery, and no acetate was detected. These results show that alamethicin is effective for the suppression of methanogen growth in MES systems and that its use enables the production of industrially relevant organic compounds by the inhibition of methanogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3863-3868
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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