Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 106–115 | Cite as

The change in biotic and abiotic soil components influenced by paddy soil microbial fuel cells loaded with various resistances

  • Williamson Gustave
  • Zhao-Feng Yuan
  • Raju Sekar
  • Yu-Xiang Ren
  • Hu-Cheng Chang
  • Jinjing-Yuan Liu
  • Zheng ChenEmail author
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Soil microbial fuel cells (sMFC) are novel technique that uses organic matters in soils as an alternative energy source. External resistance (ER) is a key factor that influences sMFC performance and also alters the soil biological and chemical reactions. However, little information is available on how the microbial community and soil component changes in sMFC with different ER. Thus, the purpose of this study is to collectively examine the effects of different ER on paddy soil biotic and abiotic components.

Materials and methods

Eighteen paddy sMFC were constructed and operated at five different ER (2000, 1000, 200, 80, and 50 Ω) in triplicates for 90 days. The effects of the sMFC anodes at different ER were examined by measuring organic matter (OM) removal efficiency, trace elements in porewater, and bacterial community structure in contaminated paddy soil.

Results and discussion

The results indicate that ER has significant effects on sMFC power production, OM removal efficiency, and bacterial beta diversity. Moreover, ER influences iron, arsenic, and nickel concentration as well in soil porewater. In particular, greater current densities were observed at lower ER (2.6 mA, 50 Ω) as compared to a higher ER (0.3 mA, 2000 Ω). The removal efficiency of OM increased with decreasing ER, whereas it decreased with soil distance away from the anode. Furthermore, principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) revealed that ER may shape the bacterial community that develop in the anode vicinity but have minimal effect on that of the bulk soil.


The current study illustrates that lower ER can be used to selectively enhance the relative abundance of electrogenic bacteria and lead to high OM removal.


Arsenic External resistances Geobacter Organic matter Paddy soil Soil microbial fuel cell 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (41571305) and the Jiangsu Science and Technology Program (BK20161251). The authors acknowledge the kind help of Zhou Xiao and Yi-Li Cheng for their technical support in the sample analysis. The authors are grateful to Markus Klingelfuss and Jacquelin St. Jean for proofreading the manuscript. Lastly, the authors are grateful for the kind help of Elmer Villanueva for his help in the statistical analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2024_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1105 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceXi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversitySuzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesXi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversitySuzhouChina

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