Novel Geobacter species and diverse methanogens contribute to enhanced methane production in media-added methanogenic reactors

Ran Mei, Masaru K. Nobu, Takashi Narihiro, Jimmy Yu, Arun Sathyagal, Eric Willman, Wen Tso Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether the addition of conductive materials could enhance methane production by direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET), we operated three anaerobic reactors amended with non-conductive (ceramic) or conductive materials (anthracite and granular activated carbon (GAC)). Throughout eight months of operation, ethanol was consistently detected as the major fermentation product. The specific yield in the anthracite and GAC-added reactors increased by 31.5% and 43.3%, respectively, compared to the ceramic-added reactor. 16S rRNA gene sequencing results indicated Geobacter was dominant (up to 55% of total sequences), whereas acids-degrading syntrophic bacteria were low in abundance (<2%). Using metagenomic analysis, the draft genome of the dominant Geobacter population (bin GAC1) was reconstructed and observed to possess genetic abilities of ethanol oxidation, hydrogen production, and extracellular electron transfer, and represented a phylogenetically novel Geobacter species. While Methanosaeta was the dominant methanogen, reactors containing conductive materials harbored more diverse and abundant archaeal populations, as revealed by FISH, qPCR, and metagenomics. Our findings suggested that a novel Geobacter population could oxidize ethanol and employed both hydrogen transfer and DIET depending on the accessibility of conductive materials. Thermodynamic advantages of DIET over hydrogen production could lead to enhanced methane production in reactors with conductive materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-412
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Dec 15 2018


  • Conductive materials
  • Direct interspecies electron transfer
  • Diverse methanogens
  • Novel Geobacter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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