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Microbial communities and electrochemical performance of titanium-based anodic electrodes in a microbial fuel cell.

ABSTRACT

Four types of titanium (Ti)-based electrodes were tested in the same microbial fuel cell (MFC) anodic compartment. Their electrochemical performances and the dominant microbial communities of the electrode biofilms were compared. The electrodes were identical in shape, macroscopic surface area, and core material but differed in either surface coating (Pt- or Ta-coated metal composites) or surface texture (smooth or rough). The MFC was inoculated with electrochemically active, neutrophilic microorganisms that had been enriched in the anodic compartments of acetate-fed MFCs over a period of 4 years. The original inoculum consisted of bioreactor sludge samples amended with Geobacter sulfurreducens strain PCA. Overall, the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti bioanodes (electrode-biofilm association) showed higher current production than the uncoated Ti bioanodes. Analyses of extracted DNA of the anodic liquid and the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti electrode biofilms indicated differences in the dominant bacterial communities. Biofilm formation on the uncoated electrodes was poor and insufficient for further analyses. Bioanode samples from the Pt- and Ta-coated Ti electrodes incubated with Fe(III) and acetate showed several Fe(III)-reducing bacteria, of which selected species were dominant, on the surface of the electrodes. In contrast, nitrate-enriched samples showed less diversity, and the enriched strains were not dominant on the electrode surface. Isolated Fe(III)-reducing strains were phylogenetically related, but not all identical, to Geobacter sulfurreducens strain PCA. Other bacterial species were also detected in the system, such as a Propionicimonas-related species that was dominant in the anodic liquid and Pseudomonas-, Clostridium-, Desulfovibrio-, Azospira-, and Aeromonas-related species.