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PEMF Enhance Extracellular Electron Transfer

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Zhou et al. Biotechnol Biofuels (2017) 10:238 DOI 10.1186/s13068-017-0929-3
Pulse electromagnetic fields enhance
Open Access
Biotechnology for Biofuels
extracellular electron transfer in magnetic
bioelectrochemical systems
Huihui Zhou1, Bingfeng Liu1, Qisong Wang2, Jianmin Sun1,3, Guojun Xie1, Nanqi Ren1, Zhiyong Jason Ren4 and Defeng Xing1*
Background: Microbial extracellular electron transfer (EET) is essential in driving the microbial interspecies interac- tion and redox reactions in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs). Magnetite (Fe3O4) and magnetic fields (MFs) were recently reported to promote microbial EET, but the mechanisms of MFs stimulation of EET and current generation
in BESs are not known. This study investigates the behavior of current generation and EET in a state-of-the-art pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF)-assisted magnetic BES (PEMF-MBES), which was equipped with magnetic carbon parti- cle (Fe3O4@N-mC)-coated electrodes. Illumina Miseq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons was also conducted to reveal the changes of microbial communities and interactions on the anode in response to magnetic field.
Results: PEMF had significant influences on current generation. When reactors were operated in microbial fuel cell (MFC) mode with pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF-MMFCs), power densities increased by 25.3–36.0% compared with no PEMF control MFCs (PEMF-OFF-MMFCs). More interestingly, when PEMF was removed, the power den-
sity dropped by 25.7%, while when PEMF was reintroduced, the value was restored to the previous level. Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicon and principal component analysis (PCA) based on operational taxonomic units (OTUs) indicate that PEMFs led to the shifts in microbial community and changes in species evenness that decreased biofilm microbial diversity. Geobacter spp. were found dominant in all anode biofilms, but the relative abundance in PEMF-MMFCs (86.1–90.0%) was higher than in PEMF-OFF-MMFCs (82.5–82.7%), indicating that the magnetic field enriched Geobacter on the anode. The current generation of Geobacter-inoculated microbial elec- trolysis cells (MECs) presented the same change regularity, the accordingly increase or decrease corresponding with switch of PEMF, which confirmed the reversible stimulation of PEMFs on microbial electron transfer.
Conclusion: The pulse electromagnetic field (PEMF) showed significant influence on state-of-the-art pulse magnetic bioelectrochemical systems (PEMF-MBES) in terms of current generation and microbial ecology. EET was instantane- ously and reversibly enhanced in MBESs inoculated with either mixed-culture or Geobacter. PEMF notably decreased bacterial and archaeal diversities of the anode biofilms in MMFCs via changing species evenness rather than species richness, and facilitated specific enrichment of exoelectrogenic bacteria (Geobacter) on the anode surface. This study demonstrates a new magnetic approach for understanding and facilitating microbial electrochemical activities.
Keywords: Magnetic bioelectrochemical system (MBES), Microbial fuel cell, Microbial electrolysis cell, Magnetic field, Pulse electromagnetic field, Magnetic carbon particles, Microbial community
1 School of Environment, State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology, 73 Huanghe Road, Nangang District, P.O. Box 2614, Harbin 150090, Heilongjiang, China Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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