Effects of set cathode potentials on microbial electrosynthesis system performance and biocathode methanogen function at a metatranscriptional level.

Alaa I. Ragab, Dario Rangel Shaw, Krishna Katuri, Pascal Saikaly

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Microbial electrosynthesis exploits the catalytic activity of microorganisms to utilize a cathode as an electron donor for reducing waste CO2 to valuable fuels and chemicals. Electromethanogenesis is the process of CO2 reduction to CH4 catalyzed by methanogens using the cathode directly as a source of electrons or indirectly via H2. Understanding the effects of different set cathode potentials on the functional dynamics of electromethanogenic communities is crucial for the rational design of cathode materials. Replicate enriched electromethanogenic communities were subjected to different potentials (- 1.0 V and - 0.7 V vs. Ag/AgCl) and the potential-induced changes were analyzed using a metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approach. The most abundant and transcriptionally active organism on the biocathodes was a novel species of Methanobacterium sp. strain 34x. The cathode potential-induced changes limited electron donor availability and negatively affected the overall performance of the reactors in terms of CH4 production. Although high expression of key genes within the methane and carbon metabolism pathways was evident, there was no significant difference in transcriptional response to the different set potentials. The acetyl-CoA decarbonylase/synthase (ACDS) complex were the most highly expressed genes, highlighting the significance of carbon assimilation under limited electron donor conditions and its link to the methanogenesis pathway.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 14 2020

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