Diversity and Function of the Microbial Community on Anodes of Sediment Microbial Fuel Cells fueled by Root Exudates
Anode microbial communities are essential for current production in microbial fuel cells. Anode reducing bacteria are capable of using the anode as final electron acceptor in their respiratory chain. The electrons delivered to the anode travel through a circuit to the cathode where they reduce oxyge...
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|Summary:||Anode microbial communities are essential for current production in microbial fuel cells. Anode reducing bacteria are capable of using the anode as final electron acceptor in their respiratory chain. The electrons delivered to the anode travel through a circuit to the cathode where they reduce oxygen to water generating an electric current. A novel type of sediment microbial fuel cell (SMFC) harvest energy from photosynthetically derived compounds released through the roots. Nothing is known about anode microbial communities of this type of microbial fuel cell. This work consists of three parts. The first part focuses on the study of bacterial and archaeal community compositions on anodes of SMFCs fueled by rice root exudates. By using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), a profiling technique, and cloning / sequencing of 16S rRNA, we determined that the support type used for the plant (vermiculite, potting soil or rice field soil) is an important factor determining the composition of the microbial community. Finally, by comparing microbial communities of current producing anodes and non-current producing controls we determined that Desulfobulbus- and Geobacter-related populations were probably most important for current production in potting soil and rice field soil SMFCs, respectively. However, δ-proteobacterial Anaeromyxobacter spp., unclassified δ-proteobacteria and Anaerolineae were also part of the anode biofilm in rice field soil SMFCs and these populations might also play a role in current production. Moreover, distinct clusters of Geobacter and Anaeromyxobacter populations were stimulated by rice root exudates. Regarding Archaea, uncultured Euryarchaea were abundant on anodes of potting soil SMFCs indicating a potential role in current production. In both, rice field soil and potting soil SMFCs, a decrease of Methanosaeta, an acetotrophic methanogen, was detected on current producing anodes. In the second part we focused our study on identifying the bacteria capable of rice root exudate assimilation on anodes of planted SMFCs. Using stable isotope probing (SIP) with 13C-CO2 combined with high throughput sequencing, we detected that labeled bacteria belonged to β-proteobacteria and Anaerolineae indicating their relevance in root exudate degradation. The main current producing bacteria, belonging to δ-proteobacteria were not able to assimilate root exudates. A microbial “food chain” combining activities of anode reducing bacteria with root exudate degrading bacteria is necessary for current production. However, we cannot dismiss the possibility that some bacteria might be able to directly use root exudates for current production. In the last part, we found that by submerging an anode into rice field soil up to 50% methane emission was reduced compared with open circuit controls. This mitigation could not only be explained by competition for common electron donors like acetate. We suggest that the anode, even in non-current controls, can be used as electron acceptor capturing electrons and transferring them from one part of the sediment to a spatially distant one, communicating biogeochemical processes occurring in different parts of the sediment. Our work is a first approach in understanding the microbial diversity on anodes of SMFCs fueled by rice root exudation and their potential as methane emission mitigation strategy.|