Comparison of anode bacterial communities and performance in microbial fuel cells with different electron donors

Sokhee Jung, John M. Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

371 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) harness the electrochemical activity of certain microbes for the production of electricity from reduced compounds. Characterizations of MFC anode biofilms have collectively shown very diverse microbial communities, raising ecological questions about competition and community succession within these anode-reducing communities. Three sets of triplicate, two-chamber MFCs inoculated with anaerobic sludge and differing in energy sources (acetate, lactate, and glucose) were operated to explore these questions. Based on 16S rDNA-targeted denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), all anode communities contained sequences closely affiliated with Geobacter sulfurreducens (>99% similarity) and an uncultured bacterium clone in the Bacteroidetes class (99% similarity). Various other Geobacter-like sequences were also enriched in most of the anode biofilms. While the anode communities in replicate reactors for each substrate generally converged to a reproducible community, there were some variations in the relative distribution of these putative anode-reducing Geobacter-like strains. Firmicutes were found only in glucose-fed MFCs, presumably serving the roles of converting complex carbon into simple molecules and scavenging oxygen. The maximum current density in these systems was negatively correlated with internal resistance variations among replicate reactors and, likely, was only minimally affected by anode community differences in these two-chamber MFCs with high internal resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-402
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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