Promoted performance of microbial fuel cells using Escherichia coli cells with multiple-knockout of central metabolism genes

  • Yoshihiro Ojima
  • Taichi Kawaguchi
  • Saki Fukui
  • Ryota Kikuchi
  • Kazuma Terao
  • Daisuke Koma
  • Takashi Ohmoto
  • Masayuki AzumaEmail author
Research Paper


The effect of central metabolic activity of Escherichia coli cells acting as biocatalysts on the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) was studied with glucose used as the energy source. Milliliter-scale two-chambered MFCs were used with 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone (HNQ) as an electron mediator. Among the single-gene deletions examined, frdA, pdhR, ldhA, and adhE increased the average power output of the constructed MFC. Next, multiple-gene knockout mutants were constructed using P1 transduction. The Δ5 (ΔfrdAΔpdhRΔldhAΔadhEΔpta) strain showed the highest ave. power output (1.82 mW) and coulombic efficiency (21.3%). Our results show that the combination of multiple-gene knockout in E. coli cells leads to the development of an excellent catalyst for MFCs. Finally, preventing a decrease in the pH of the anodic solution was a key factor for improving the power output of the Δ5 strain, and a maximum ave. power output of 2.21 mW was achieved with 5% NaHCO3 in the buffer. The ave. power density of the constructed MFC was 0.27 mW/cm3, which is comparable to an enzymatic fuel cell of a Milliliter-scale using glucose dehydrogenase.


Microbial fuel cell Escherichia coli Central metabolism Knockout mutant Glucose 



This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) Grant number 17K06932 from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We thank the Edanz Group ( for editing a draft of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

449_2019_2229_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshihiro Ojima
    • 1
  • Taichi Kawaguchi
    • 1
  • Saki Fukui
    • 1
  • Ryota Kikuchi
    • 1
  • Kazuma Terao
    • 1
  • Daisuke Koma
    • 2
  • Takashi Ohmoto
    • 2
  • Masayuki Azuma
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Applied Chemistry and BioengineeringOsaka City UniversityOsakaJapan
  2. 2.Research Division of Environmental TechnologyOsaka Research Institute of Industrial Science and TechnologyOsakaJapan

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