Current-generating (exoelectrogenic) bacteria in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) may not be culturable using standard in vitro agar-plating techniques, making isolation of new microbes a challenge. More in vivo like conditions are needed where bacteria can be grown and directly isolated on an electrode. While colonies can be developed from single cells on an electrode, the cells must be immobilized after being placed on the surface. Here we present a proof-of-concept immobilization approach that allows exoelectrogenic activity of cells on an electrode based on applying a layer of latex to hold bacteria on surfaces. The effectiveness of this procedure to immobilize particles was first demonstrated using fluorescent microspheres as bacterial analogs. The latex coating was then shown to not substantially affect the exoelectrogenic activity of well-developed anode biofilms in two different systems. A single layer of airbrushed coating did not reduce the voltage produced by a biofilm in a microbial fuel cell (MFC), and more easily applied dip-and-blot coating reduced voltage by only 11% in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC). This latex immobilization procedure will enable future testing of single cells for exoelectrogenic activity on electrodes in BESs.
Keywords: microbial fuel cell, microbial electrolysis cell, bioelectrochemical system, immobilization layer, anode, latex