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Open AccessArticle

Structure and Functions of Hydrocarbon-Degrading Microbial Communities in Bioelectrochemical Systems

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milan, Italy
Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, University of Florence, Piazzale delle Cascine 18, 50144 Firenze, Italy
Water Research Institute (IRSA), National Research Council (CNR), Via Salaria km 29,300, 00015 Monterotondo, RM, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 343;
Received: 30 November 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 22 January 2020 / Published: 25 January 2020
Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) exploit the interaction between microbes and electrodes. A field of application thereof is bioelectrochemical remediation, an effective strategy in environments where the absence of suitable electron acceptors limits classic bioremediation approaches. Understanding the microbial community structure and genetic potential of anode biofilms is of great interest to interpret the mechanisms occurring in BESs. In this study, by using a whole metagenome sequencing approach, taxonomic and functional diversity patterns in the inoculum and on the anodes of three continuous-flow BES for the removal of phenol, toluene, and BTEX were obtained. The genus Geobacter was highly enriched on the anodes and two reconstructed genomes were taxonomically related to the Geobacteraceae family. To functionally characterize the microbial community, the genes coding for the anaerobic degradation of toluene, ethylbenzene, and phenol were selected as genetic markers for the anaerobic degradation of the pollutants. The genes related with direct extracellular electron transfer (EET) were also analyzed. The inoculum carried the genetic baggage for the degradation of aromatics but lacked the capacity of EET while anodic bacterial communities were able to pursue both processes. The metagenomic approach provided useful insights into the ecology and complex functions within hydrocarbon-degrading electrogenic biofilms. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioelectrochemistry; whole shotgun metagenomic; hydrocarbon; degradation; BTEX; phenol bioelectrochemistry; whole shotgun metagenomic; hydrocarbon; degradation; BTEX; phenol
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MDPI and ACS Style

Espinoza-Tofalos, A.; Daghio, M.; Palma, E.; Aulenta, F.; Franzetti, A. Structure and Functions of Hydrocarbon-Degrading Microbial Communities in Bioelectrochemical Systems. Water 2020, 12, 343.

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