Detection and Characterization of Electrogenic Bacteria from Soils

BioTech (Basel). 2023 Dec 2;12(4):65. doi: 10.3390/biotech12040065.


Soil microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) are bioelectrical devices powered by the oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds due to microbial activity. Seven soils were randomly selected from Bergen Community College or areas nearby, located in the state of New Jersey, USA, were used to screen for the presence of electrogenic bacteria. SMFCs were incubated at 35-37 °C. Electricity generation and electrogenic bacteria were determined using an application developed for cellular phones. Of the seven samples, five generated electricity and enriched electrogenic bacteria. Average electrical output for the seven SMFCs was 155 microwatts with the start-up time ranging from 1 to 11 days. The highest output and electrogenic bacterial numbers were found with SMFC-B1 with 143 microwatts and 2.99 × 109 electrogenic bacteria after 15 days. Optimal electrical output and electrogenic bacterial numbers ranged from 1 to 21 days. Microbial DNA was extracted from the top and bottom of the anode of SMFC-B1 using the ZR Soil Microbe DNA MiniPrep Protocol followed by PCR amplification of 16S rRNA V3-V4 region. Next-generation sequencing of 16S rRNA genes generated an average of 58 k sequences. BLAST analysis of the anode bacterial community in SMFC-B1 demonstrated that the predominant bacterial phylum was Bacillota of the class Clostridia (50%). However, bacteria belonging to the phylum Pseudomonadota (15%) such as Magnetospirillum sp. and Methylocaldum gracile were also part of the predominant electrogenic bacterial community in the anode. Unidentified uncultured bacteria accounted for 35% of the predominant bacterial community. Bioelectrical devices such as MFCs provide sustainable and clean alternatives to future applications for electricity generation, waste treatment, and biosensors.

Keywords: Bacillota; Pseudomonadota; electrogenic bacteria; soil microbial fuel cells.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.