Dominance of electroactive microbiomes in bioelectrochemical remediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated soils with different textures

Huan Wang, Lu Lu, Deqiang Mao, Zhe Huang, Yixiao Cui, Song Jin, Yi Zuo, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) are known to enhance the remediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil and sediments compared with natural attenuation, and the primary mechanism has been assumed as anaerobic degradation facilitated by electroactive bacteria (EAB) using the electrode as electron acceptor. However, known EAB were rarely found on the anodes of reported BESs, which challenged the fundamental mechanism of BESs although significant current generation was always observed during degradation of these recalcitrant substrates. This study however found the abundant EAB Geobacter (∼27.3%) in the anodic biofilms, which confirmed the role of electroactive bio-anode on the conversion of hydrocarbons into the current for the enhancement of remediation. Widespread occurrence of aerobic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria (HDB) (e.g. ∼24.0% Parvibaculum and ∼30.6% Pseudomonas) was observed in soils with limited dissolved oxygen (∼0.4 mg/L). The higher abundance of dehydrogenase genes was found in the anode biofilms than that in soils, indicating anodic microorganisms may be mainly responsible for the removal of intermediates of aerobic hydrocarbons degradation in soils. High water saturation level and sandy soil texture showed positive impacts on bioelectrochemical remediation, while clay soil and unsaturation condition pose challenges in mass transfers in the matrix. The reactor performance was consistent with the phylogenetic molecular ecological network (pMENs) analysis, which showed that sandy soil BESs had tighter microbial network interactions than clay soil reactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-784
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Nov 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Aerobic hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria
  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Electroactive bacteria
  • Hydrocarbon-contaminated soils
  • Microbial community


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