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Review
, 103 (20), 8327-8338

Convenient Non-Invasive Electrochemical Techniques to Monitor Microbial Processes: Current State and Perspectives

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Review

Convenient Non-Invasive Electrochemical Techniques to Monitor Microbial Processes: Current State and Perspectives

Charles E Turick et al. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol.

Abstract

Real-time electrochemical monitoring in bioprocesses is an improvement over existing systems because it is versatile and provides more information to the user than periodic measurements of cell density or metabolic activity. Real-time electrochemical monitoring provides the ability to monitor the physiological status of actively growing cells related to electron transfer activity and potential changes in the proton gradient of the cells. Voltammetric and amperometric techniques offer opportunities to monitor electron transfer reactions when electrogenic microbes are used in microbial fuel cells or bioelectrochemical synthesis. Impedance techniques provide the ability to monitor the physiological status of a wide range of microorganisms in conventional bioprocesses. Impedance techniques involve scanning a range of frequencies to define physiological activity in terms of equivalent electrical circuits, thereby enabling the use of computer modeling to evaluate specific growth parameters. Electrochemical monitoring of microbial activity has applications throughout the biotechnology industry for generating real-time data and offers the potential for automated process controls for specific bioprocesses.

Keywords: Bioelectrosynthesis; Bioprocess; Cyclic voltammetry; Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy; In situ monitoring; Microbial fuel cell.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Changing paradigm from microbes as chemical catalysts to microbes as complex electrochemical entities. Since microbes are responsible for electron flow during catalytic activity, monitoring electron flow offers real-time data related to bioprocess status. With electrochemical techniques, microbial activity can be monitored continuously and inexpensively in real time. Potential disruptions can be detected early and corrected before process failure occurs.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Plot of chronoamperometry data. Application of chronoamperometry in microbial cultures provides quantitative information regarding electron transfer to and from electrodes
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Streamlines for flow and vector of fluid velocity near a rotating disk electrode (adapted from Denuault et al. , with permission)
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Example voltammogram (Tektronix , with permission) depicting four voltage vertices: E1 (initial potential), E2 (second, switching potential), E3 (third, switching potential), and E4 (final potential). The voltage peaks in the waveform are the anodic (Epa) and the cathodic (Epc) peak potentials
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Defining microbial activity with equivalent circuits. This equivalent circuit was used to fit microbiological data where R1 represents electrolyte resistance in the medium at high frequency, CPE1 and R2 represent a constant phase element and charge transfer resistance, respectively at lower to medium frequencies, with CPE2 and R3 representing a constant phase element and a modification of the charge transfer resistance respectively at low to high frequencies

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