Electrochemical biofilm control by reconstructing microbial community in agricultural water distribution systems

Peng Song, Yang Xiao, Zhiyong Jason Ren, John P. Brooks, Lu Lu, Bo Zhou, Yunpeng Zhou, Stefano Freguia, Zhidan Liu, Ning Zhang, Yunkai Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Biofilm causes considerable technical challenges in agricultural water distribution systems. Electrochemical treatment (ECT) is a potential technique for controlling biofilm in the systems. Given the limited information on how ECT performance changes of irrigation systems and microbial biofilm community shifts. In this study, the effect of anti-biofilm was assessed. Illumina Miseq high-throughput sequencing, combined with molecular ecological network analysis, were applied to detect the effects of ECT on attached biofilm microbial communities. We found that ECT effectively mitigated biofilm formation with the fixed-biofilm biomass reduced by 37.5 %–79.9 %. ECT significantly shifted the bacterial community structures in the biofilm, reduced the communities’ diversity, and changed the dominant species. Molecular ecological network analysis showed that the complexity and size of bacterial networks were destabilized under ECT and decreased the interactions among bacterial species. The reconstruction in bacterial community and networks were responsible for the decline in extracellular polymer substances and biofilm biomass. However, chlorine-resistant bacteria were found increased after ECT, and higher relative abundance and low biofilm removal was identified in continuous ECT as compared with intermittent ECT. These results aimed to highlight the opportunity for biofouling mitigation by ECT for irrigation systems, and reveal the potential anti-biofilm microbial mechanisms of ECT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123616
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Feb 5 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Biofilm
  • Drip irrigation
  • Electrochemical
  • Emitter clogging
  • Microbial community
  • Molecular ecological network


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