, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 537-548,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Microbial community structure elucidates performance of Glyceria maxima plant microbial fuel cell

Abstract

The plant microbial fuel cell (PMFC) is a technology in which living plant roots provide electron donor, via rhizodeposition, to a mixed microbial community to generate electricity in a microbial fuel cell. Analysis and localisation of the microbial community is necessary for gaining insight into the competition for electron donor in a PMFC. This paper characterises the anode–rhizosphere bacterial community of a Glyceria maxima (reed mannagrass) PMFC. Electrochemically active bacteria (EAB) were located on the root surfaces, but they were more abundant colonising the graphite granular electrode. Anaerobic cellulolytic bacteria dominated the area where most of the EAB were found, indicating that the current was probably generated via the hydrolysis of cellulose. Due to the presence of oxygen and nitrate, short-chain fatty acid-utilising denitrifiers were the major competitors for the electron donor. Acetate-utilising methanogens played a minor role in the competition for electron donor, probably due to the availability of graphite granules as electron acceptors.

Ruud A. Timmers and Michael Rothballer contributed equally to this work.