Composition and role of the attached and planktonic microbial communities in mesophilic and thermophilic xylose-fed microbial fuel cells

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Abstract

A mesophilic (37 °C) and a thermophilic (55 °C) two-chamber microbial fuel cell (MFC) were studied and compared for their power production from xylose and the microbial communities involved. The anode-Attached, membrane-Attached, and planktonic microbial communities, and their respective active subpopulations, were determined by next generation sequencing (Illumina MiSeq), based on the presence and expression of the 16S rRNA gene. Geobacteraceae accounted for 65% of the anode-Attached active microbial community in the mesophilic MFC, and were associated to electricity generation likely through direct electron transfer, resulting in the highest power production of 1.1 W m-3. A lower maximum power was generated in the thermophilic MFC (0.2 W m-3), likely due to limited acetate oxidation and the competition for electrons by hydrogen oxidizing bacteria and hydrogenotrophic methanogenic archaea. Aerobic microorganisms, detected among the membrane-Attached active community in both the mesophilic and thermophilic MFC, likely acted as a barrier for oxygen flowing from the cathodic chamber through the membrane, favoring the strictly anaerobic exoelectrogenic microorganisms, but competing with them for xylose and its degradation products. This study provides novel information on the active microbial communities populating the anodic chamber of mesophilic and thermophilic xylose-fed MFCs, which may help in developing strategies to favor exoelectrogenic microorganisms at the expenses of competing microorganisms.

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Dessì, P., Porca, E., Haavisto, J., Lakaniemi, A. M., Collins, G., & Lens, P. N. L. (2018). Composition and role of the attached and planktonic microbial communities in mesophilic and thermophilic xylose-fed microbial fuel cells. RSC Advances, 8(6), 3069–3080. https://doi.org/10.1039/c7ra12316g

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