ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER CHAMPAIGN IL CHAMPAIGN United States
With a limited supply of fossil fuel, there has been great interest in the development of new technologies that can take advantage of renewable fuel sources or convert energy stored in waste to usable energy. One such class of technologies are microbial fuel cells MFCs, which can convert various carbohydrate rich sources as well as wastewater into electricity via biological catalysts. However, electrical current generation in these microbial driven systems is typically low making these technologies unsuitable for widespread use. In order for MFCs to become a viable alternative energy source, methods are needed to better understand the relationship between microbes and electron transfer. This work out-lines a method for spatially differentiating exoelectrogenic bacteria with-in intact bio-films grown on a conductive surface. The technique involves the rapid generation of biofilms by using a drip flow bioreactor DFR on indium tin oxide ITO-coated slides, in situ fixation of bacteria within the biofilms on the ITO surface, and determining species differentiation and location by probing with fluorescence in situ hybridization FISH. This method was shown to effectively distinguish two exoelectrogens within biofilms on a conductive surface, which could serve as a novel means to study MFCs in greater detail.