Anodic microbial community analysis of microbial fuel cells based on enriched inoculum from freshwater sediment

  • Caterina Armato
  • Daniyal Ahmed
  • Valeria Agostino
  • Deborah Traversi
  • Raffaella Degan
  • Tonia Tommasi
  • Valentina Margaria
  • Adriano Sacco
  • Giorgio Gilli
  • Marzia Quaglio
  • Guido Saracco
  • Tiziana SchiliròEmail author
Research Paper


The characterization of anodic microbial communities is of great importance in the study of microbial fuel cells (MFCs). These kinds of devices mainly require a high abundance of anode respiring bacteria (ARB) in the anode chamber for optimal performance. This study evaluated the effect of different enrichments of environmental freshwater sediment samples used as inocula on microbial community structures in MFCs. Two enrichment media were compared: ferric citrate (FeC) enrichment, with the purpose of increasing the ARB percentage, and general enrichment (Gen). The microbial community dynamics were evaluated by polymerase chain reaction followed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) and real time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The enrichment effect was visible on the microbial community composition both during precultures and in anode MFCs. Both enrichment approaches affected microbial communities. Shannon diversity as well as β-Proteobacteria and γ-Proteobacteria percentages decreased during the enrichment steps, especially for FeC (p < 0.01). Our data suggest that FeC enrichment excessively reduced the diversity of the anode community, rather than promoting the proliferation of ARB, causing a condition that did not produce advantages in terms of system performance.

Graphical abstract


Freshwater sediment Microbial communities DGGE Real-time qPCR MFC 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caterina Armato
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniyal Ahmed
    • 2
    • 3
  • Valeria Agostino
    • 2
    • 3
  • Deborah Traversi
    • 1
  • Raffaella Degan
    • 1
  • Tonia Tommasi
    • 3
  • Valentina Margaria
    • 2
  • Adriano Sacco
    • 2
  • Giorgio Gilli
    • 1
  • Marzia Quaglio
    • 2
  • Guido Saracco
    • 2
  • Tiziana Schilirò
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Public Health and PediatricsUniversity of TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Sustainable Future Technologies (CSFT@PoliTo)Istituto Italiano di TecnologiaTurinItaly
  3. 3.Department of Applied Science and TechnologyPolitecnico di TorinoTurinItaly

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