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Starting an electrical conversation between microorganisms and electrodes to achieve bioproduction

Objective

"Electrochemically active bacteria enable a host of novel processes in bioproduction, bioenergy and bioremediation. Key to the success of these processes is effective adherence of the bacterial cells to an electrode surface and subsequent equally effective electron exchange with the electrode. While the cellular mechanisms for electron transfer are increasingly known, what drives bacterial adsorption and desorption to positively or negatively polarized electrodes is largely unknown. Particularly processes driven by cathodes tend to be slow, and suffer from limited microbial adherence and lack of growth of the microorganisms. ELECTROTALK aims at developing a mechanistic understanding of mobility towards and microbial adherence at surfaces, from single cell level to complete biofilm formation. Based on this knowledge, effectively catalyzed bio-electrodes will be developed for novel bioproduction processes. Such bioproduction processes, termed microbial electrosynthesis, are independent of arable land availability, promise high production densities and enable the capture of CO2 or more efficient resource-usage for a range of products. Understanding the nature of the microorganism-electrode interaction will create a window of opportunity to improve this process and achieve effective bioproduction. Moreover, as the electrical interaction directly relates to microbial activity electrodes may serve as a means to start up a conversation with the cells. To achieve our aims we will: (i) select and characterize biocatalysts both as pure cultures and microbial communities; (ii) investigate cell adherence and electron transfer in function of electrode topography and chemistry as well as under different operational conditions; (iii) develop an electrode-microorganism combination achieving effective electron transfer; and (iv) electrochemically construct biofilms with defined structure or stratification."

Call for proposal

ERC-2012-StG_20111109
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Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT GENT
Address
Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 25
9000 Gent
Belgium

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Korneel Pieter Herman Leo Ann Rabaey (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Margo Baele (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 1 494 125,60

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITEIT GENT
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 1 494 125,60
Address
Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 25
9000 Gent

See on map

Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Korneel Pieter Herman Leo Ann Rabaey (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Margo Baele (Dr.)