Community structure dynamics during startup in microbial fuel cells - The effect of phosphate concentrations

Keren Yanuka-Golub, Leah Reshef, Judith Rishpon, Uri Gophna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


For microbial fuel cells (MFCs) to become a cost-effective wastewater treatment technology, they must produce a stable electro-active microbial community quickly and operate under realistic wastewater nutrient conditions. The composition of the anodic-biofilm and planktonic-cells communities was followed temporally for MFCs operated under typical laboratory phosphate concentrations (134 mg L-1 P) versus wastewater phosphate concentrations (16 mg L-1 P). A stable peak voltage was attained two-fold faster in MFCs operating under lower phosphate concentration. All anodic-biofilms were composed of well-known exoelectrogenic bacterial families; however, MFCs showing faster startup and a stable voltage had a Desulfuromonadaceae-dominated-biofilm, while biofilms co-dominated by Desulfuromonadaceae and Geobacteraceae characterized slower or less stable MFCs. Interestingly, planktonic-cell concentrations of these bacteria followed a similar trend as the anodic-biofilm and could therefore serve as a biomarker for its formation. These results demonstrate that wastewater-phosphate concentrations do not compromise MFCs efficiency, and considerably speed up startup times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016


FundersFunder number
Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection
Tel Aviv University


    • Anodic-biofilm development
    • Microbial communities
    • Microbial fuel cell
    • Phosphate concentration
    • Startup time


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