Dynamic changes in the microbial community composition in 7 microbial fuel cells fed with sucrose

The performance and dynamics of the bacterial communities in the biofilm and suspended culture in the anode chamber of sucrose-fed microbial fuel cells (MFCs) were studied by using DenaturingGradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified partial 16S rRNA genes followed by species identification by sequencing. The power density of MFCs was correlated to the relative proportions of species obtained from DGGE analysis in order to detect bacterial species or taxonomic classes with an important functional role in electricity production. Although replicate MFCs showed similarity in performance, cluster analysis of DGGE profiles revealed differences in the evolution of bacterial communities between replicate MFCs. No correlation was found between the proportion trends of specific species and the enhancement of power output. However, in all MFCsputative exoelectrogenic denitrifiers and sulfate-reducers accounted for approximately 24% of the bacterial biofilm community at the end of the study. Pareto-Lorenz evenness distribution curves extracted from the DGGE patterns obtained from time-course samples indicated community structures where shifts between functionally similar species occur, as observed within the predominant fermentative bacteria. These results suggest the presence of functional redundancy within the anodic communities, a probable indication that stable MFC performance can be maintained in changing environmental conditions. The capability of bacteria to adapt to electricity generation might be present among a wide range of 56 bacteria.

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