Methanobacterium Dominates Biocathodic Archaeal Communities in Methanogenic Microbial Electrolysis Cells

Michael Siegert, Matthew D. Yates, Alfred M. Spormann, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


© 2015 American Chemical Society. Methane is the primary end product from cathodic current in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) in the absence of methanogenic inhibitors, but little is known about the archaeal communities that develop in these systems. MECs containing cathodes made from different materials (carbon brushes, or plain graphite blocks or blocks coated with carbon black and platinum, stainless steel, nickel, ferrihydrite, magnetite, iron sulfide, or molybdenum disulfide) were inoculated with anaerobic digester sludge and acclimated at a set potential of -600 mV (versus a standard hydrogen electrode). The archaeal communities on all cathodes, except those coated with platinum, were predominated by Methanobacterium (median 97% of archaea). Cathodes with platinum contained mainly archaea most similar to Methanobrevibacter. Neither of these methanogens were abundant (
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1676
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 18 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: We thank Ivan Ivanov for fruitful discussions and John Cantolina of the Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences for assistance with SEM imaging. This research was supported by the Global Climate and Energy Program (GCEP) and by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST, award KUS-I1-003-13).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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