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Trends Microbiol. 2006 Dec;14(12):512-8. Epub 2006 Oct 16.

Electricity-producing bacterial communities in microbial fuel cells.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Penn State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are not yet commercialized but they show great promise as a method of water treatment and as power sources for environmental sensors. The power produced by these systems is currently limited, primarily by high internal (ohmic) resistance. However, improvements in the system architecture will soon result in power generation that is dependent on the capabilities of the microorganisms. The bacterial communities that develop in these systems show great diversity, ranging from primarily delta-Proteobacteria that predominate in sediment MFCs to communities composed of alpha-, beta-, gamma- or delta-Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and uncharacterized clones in other types of MFCs. Much remains to be discovered about the physiology of these bacteria capable of exocellular electron transfer, collectively defined as a community of "exoelectrogens". Here, we review the microbial communities found in MFCs and the prospects for this emerging bioenergy technology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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