Electrode-Based Approach for Monitoring In Situ Microbial Activity During Subsurface Bioremediation

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 11/2009; 44(1):47-54. DOI: 10.1021/es9017464
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Current production by microorganisms colonizing subsurface electrodes and its relationship to substrate availability and microbial activity was evaluated in an aquifer undergoing bioremediation. Borehole graphite anodes were installed downgradient from a region of acetate injection designed to stimulate bioreduction of U(VI); cathodes consisted of graphite electrodes embedded at the ground surface. Significant increases in current density (< or =50 mA/m2) tracked delivery of acetate to the electrodes, dropping rapidly when acetate inputs were discontinued. An upgradient control electrode not exposed to acetate produced low, steady currents (< or =0.2 mA/m2). Elevated current was strongly correlated with uranium removal but minimal correlation existed with elevated Fe(II). Confocal laser scanning microscopy of electrodes revealed firmly attached biofilms, and analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences indicated the electrode surfaces were dominated (67-80%) by Geobacter species. This is the first demonstration that electrodes can produce readily detectable currents despite long-range (6 m) separation of anode and cathode, and these results suggest that oxidation of acetate coupled to electron transfer to electrodes by Geobacter species was the primary source of current. Thus it is expected that current production may serve as an effective proxy for monitoring in situ microbial activity in a variety of subsurface anoxic environments.

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    • "Microbial activity monitoring has also been proposed as another application of an MFC-based sensor (Patchett et al., 1988; Tront et al., 2008a,b; Williams et al., 2010b). The idea is based on the response of current generation to different substrate (BOD) concentrations based on the activity of the biofilm colonized on the anode. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract A Microbial Fuel Cell is a bioelectrochemical device that exploits metabolic activities of living microorganisms for generation of electric current. The usefulness and unique and exclusive architecture of this device has received wide attention recently of engineers and researchers of various disciplines such as microbiologists, chemical engineers, biotechnologists, environment engineers and mechanical engineers, and the subject of MFCs has thereby progressed as a well-developed technology. Sustained innovations and continuous development efforts have established the usefulness of MFCs towards many specialized and value-added applications beyond electricity generation, such as wastewater treatment and implantable body devices. This review is an attempt to provide an update on this rapidly growing technology.
    Critical Reviews in Microbiology 06/2014; DOI:10.3109/1040841X.2014.905513 · 6.09 Impact Factor
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    • "In order to scale-up this strategy for successful in situ application, extensive testings based on subsurface characteristics and site-specific design needs to be studied. Williams and colleagues (2010) for the first time demonstrated the in situ applicability of graphite electrodes in the subsurface serving as electron acceptors for microbial stimulation during uranium bioremediation at Rifle site in Colorado. A similar approach may be employed for the remediation of chlorinated solvents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Microbial electric systems (MESs) hold significant promise for the sustainable remediation of chlorinated solvents such as tetrachlorethene (perchloroethylene, PCE). Although the bio-electrochemical potential of some specific bacterial species such as Dehalcoccoides and Geobacteraceae have been exploited, this ability in other undefined microorganisms has not been extensively assessed. Hence, the focus of this study was to investigate indigenous and potentially bio-electrochemically active microorganisms in PCE-contaminated groundwater. Lab-scale MESs were fed with acetate and carbon electrode/PCE as electron donors and acceptors, respectively, under biostimulation (BS) and BS-bioaugmentation (BS-BA) regimes. Molecular analysis of the indigenous groundwater community identified mainly Spirochaetes, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and γ and δ-Proteobacteria. Environmental scanning electron photomicrographs of the anode surfaces showed extensive indigenous microbial colonization under both regimes. This colonization and BS resulted in 100% dechlorination in both treatments with complete dechlorination occurring 4 weeks earlier in BS-BA samples and up to 11.5 μA of current being generated. The indigenous non-Dehalococcoides community was found to contribute significantly to electron transfer with ∼61% of the current generated due to their activities. This study therefore shows the potential of the indigenous non-Dehalococcoides bacterial community in bio-electrochemically reducing PCE that could prove to be a cost-effective and sustainable bioremediation practice.
    Microbial Biotechnology 10/2013; 7(1). DOI:10.1111/1751-7915.12089 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    • "While it is known that attached populations constitute the majority of cells in the subsurface and there are physiological differences between attached and suspended microbial communities, few studies have examined differences between these two fractions [14,15]. One such difference associated with a specific group involves the iron-reducing bacteria, which are usually associated with a solid substrate [16] and therefore are expected to be underrepresented in the bulk groundwater. "
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    ABSTRACT: The diverse microbial populations that inhabit pristine aquifers are known to catalyze critical in situ biogeochemical reactions, yet little is known about how the structure and diversity of this subsurface community correlates with and impacts upon groundwater chemistry. Herein we examine 8,786 bacterial and 8,166 archaeal 16S rRNA gene sequences from an array of monitoring wells in the Mahomet aquifer of east-central Illinois. Using multivariate statistical analyses we provide a comparative analysis of the relationship between groundwater chemistry and the microbial communities attached to aquifer sediment along with those suspended in groundwater. Statistical analyses of 16S rRNA gene sequences showed a clear distinction between attached and suspended communities; with iron-reducing bacteria far more abundant in attached samples than suspended, while archaeal clones related to groups associated with anaerobic methane oxidation and deep subsurface gold mines (ANME-2D and SAGMEG-1, respectively) distinguished the suspended community from the attached. Within the attached bacterial community, cloned sequences most closely related to the sulfate-reducing Desulfobacter and Desulfobulbus genera represented 20% of the bacterial community in wells where the concentration of sulfate in groundwater was high (> 0.2 mM), compared to only 3% in wells with less sulfate. Sequences related to the genus Geobacter, a genus containing ferric-iron reducers, were of nearly equal abundance (15%) to the sulfate reducers under high sulfate conditions, however their relative abundance increased to 34% when sulfate concentrations were < 0.03 mM. Also, in areas where sulfate concentrations were <0.03 mM, Archaea, 16S rRNA gene sequences similar to those found in methanogens such as Methanosarcina and Methanosaeta comprised 73--80% of the community, and dissolved CH4 ranged between 220 and 1240 muM in these groundwaters. In contrast, methanogens (and their product, CH4) were nearly absent in samples collected from groundwater samples with > 0.2 mM sulfate. In the suspended fraction of wells where the concentration of sulfate was between 0.03 and 0.2 mM, the archaeal community was dominated by sequences most closely related to the ANME-2D, a group of Archaea known for anaerobically oxidizing methane. Based on available energy ([increment]GA) estimations, results varied little for both sulfate reduction and methanogenesis throughout all wells studied, but could favor anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in wells containing minimal sulfate and dihydrogen, suggesting AOM coupled with H2-oxidizing organisms such as sulfate or iron reducers could be an important pathway occurring in the Mahomet aquifer. Overall, the results show several distinct factors control the composition of microbial communities in the Mahomet aquifer. Bacteria that respire insoluble substrates such as iron oxides, i.e. Geobacter, comprise a greater abundance of the attached community than the suspended regardless of groundwater chemistry. Differences in community structure driven by the concentration of sulfate point to a clear link between the availability of substrate and the abundance of certain functional groups, particularly iron reducers, sulfate reducers, methanogens, and methanotrophs. Integrating both geochemical and microbiological observations suggest that the relationships between these functional groups could be driven in part by mutualism, especially between ferric-iron and sulfate reducers.
    BMC Microbiology 06/2013; 13(1):146. DOI:10.1186/1471-2180-13-146 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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