Microbial community composition is unaffected by anode potential

Xiuping Zhu, Matthew D. Yates, Marta C. Hatzell, Hari Ananda Rao, Pascal E. Saikaly, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


There is great controversy on how different set anode potentials affect the performance of a bioelectrochemical system (BES). It is often reported that more positive potentials improve acclimation and performance of exoelectrogenic biofilms, and alter microbial community structure, while in other studies relatively more negative potentials were needed to achieve higher current densities. To address this issue, the biomass, electroactivity, and community structure of anodic biofilms were examined over a wide range of set anode potentials (-0.25, -0.09, 0.21, 0.51, and 0.81 V vs a standard hydrogen electrode, SHE) in single-chamber microbial electrolysis cells. Maximum currents produced using a wastewater inoculum increased with anode potentials in the range of -0.25 to 0.21 V, but decreased at 0.51 and 0.81 V. The maximum currents were positively correlated with increasing biofilm biomass. Pyrosequencing indicated biofilm communities were all similar and dominated by bacteria most similar to Geobacter sulfurreducens. Differences in anode performance with various set potentials suggest that the exoelectrogenic communities self-regulate their exocellular electron transfer pathways to adapt to different anode potentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1358
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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