Characterization and significance of extracellular polymeric substances, reactive oxygen species, and extracellular

The microbial electrolysis cell assisted anaerobic digestion holds great promises over conventional anaerobic digestion. This article reports an experimental investigation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the expression of genes associated with extracellular electron transfer (EET) in methanogenic biocathodes. The MEC-AD systems were examined using two cathode materials: carbon fibers and stainless-steel mesh. A higher abundance of hydrogenotrophicMethanobacterium sp. and homoacetogenic Acetobacterium sp. appeared to play a major role in superior methanogenesis from stainless steel biocathode than carbon fibers. Moreover, the higher secretion of EPS accompanied by the lower ROS level in stainless steel biocathode indicated that higher EPS perhaps protected cells from harsh metabolic conditions (possibly unfavorable local pH) induced by faster catalysis of hydrogen evolution reaction.

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Fig: Methane production from CF–CF and CF–SS reactors. The error bars indicate the standard deviation of three replicates (n = 3).

In contrast, EET-associated gene expression patterns were comparable in both biocathodes. Thus, these results indicated hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis is the key mechanism, while cathodic EET has a trivial role in distinguishing performances between two cathode electrodes. These results provide new insights into the efficient methanogenic biocathode development.

Zakaria, B.S., Dhar, B.R. Characterization and significance of extracellular polymeric substances, reactive oxygen species, and extracellular electron transfer in methanogenic biocathode. Sci Rep11, 7933 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87118-w

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