Electricity-producing bacterial communities in microbial fuel cells

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Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are not yet commercialized but they show great promise as a method of water treatment and as power sources for environmental sensors. The power produced by these systems is currently limited, primarily by high internal (ohmic) resistance. However, improvements in the system architecture will soon result in power generation that is dependent on the capabilities of the microorganisms. The bacterial communities that develop in these systems show great diversity, ranging from primarily δ-Proteobacteria that predominate in sediment MFCs to communities composed of α-, β-, γ- or δ-Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and uncharacterized clones in other types of MFCs. Much remains to be discovered about the physiology of these bacteria capable of exocellular electron transfer, collectively defined as a community of 'exoelectrogens'. Here, we review the microbial communities found in MFCs and the prospects for this emerging bioenergy technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-518
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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