Convergent development of anodic bacterial communities in microbial fuel cells.

Matthew D Yates, Patrick D Kiely, Douglas F Call, Hamid Rismani-Yazdi, Kyle Bibby, Jordan Peccia, John M Regan, Bruce E Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are often inoculated from a single wastewater source. The extent that the inoculum affects community development or power production is unknown. The stable anodic microbial communities in MFCs were examined using three inocula: a wastewater treatment plant sample known to produce consistent power densities, a second wastewater treatment plant sample, and an anaerobic bog sediment. The bog-inoculated MFCs initially produced higher power densities than the wastewater-inoculated MFCs, but after 20 cycles all MFCs on average converged to similar voltages (470±20 mV) and maximum power densities (590±170 mW m(-2)). The power output from replicate bog-inoculated MFCs was not significantly different, but one wastewater-inoculated MFC (UAJA3 (UAJA, University Area Joint Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant)) produced substantially less power. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiling showed a stable exoelectrogenic biofilm community in all samples after 11 cycles. After 16 cycles the predominance of Geobacter spp. in anode communities was identified using 16S rRNA gene clone libraries (58±10%), fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) (63±6%) and pyrosequencing (81±4%). While the clone library analysis for the underperforming UAJA3 had a significantly lower percentage of Geobacter spp. sequences (36%), suggesting that a predominance of this microbe was needed for convergent power densities, the lower percentage of this species was not verified by FISH or pyrosequencing analyses. These results show that the predominance of Geobacter spp. in acetate-fed systems was consistent with good MFC performance and independent of the inoculum source.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2002-2013
Number of pages12
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 10 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by Award KUS-I1-003-13 from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and by Award DGE-0750756 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Student Fellowship Program.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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