The evaluation of long term performance of microbial fuel cell based Pb toxicity shock sensor

Min Xu, Jianfeng Li, Bingchuan Liu*, Changzhu Yang, Huijie Hou, Jingping Hu, Jiakuan Yang, Keke Xiao, Sha Liang, Dongliang Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Microbial fuel cell (MFC) sensor exhibits attractive prospects for online monitoring of water toxicity as an early warning device. However, the accumulation of dead cells in anode biofilm might decrease the sensing sensitivity of MFC during long term operation. In addition, with repeated exposure to toxins, the microbial community of anode biofilm would also adjust to build up higher endurance to environmental toxicity. In this study, the long term sensing sensitivity of MFC sensor and the microbial community changes were characterized with Pb2+ as the target toxin. The results show that newly formed biofilm with higher live/dead cell ratio exhibited higher sensitivity than mature biofilm. Modification of anodic biofilm via high current stimulation was applied to increase the ratio of live cells, which led to enhanced sensing sensitivity of MFC with mature anode biofilm. However, the enhancement was relatively limited for biofilm that was previously exposed to repeated Pb2+ shocks. Microbial community analysis revealed that the proportions of microbial species possessing higher environmental robustness, such as Hyphomicrobiaceae and Cloacibacillus, significantly increased in the anode biofilm after long term repeated Pb2+ shocks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129455
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • High current stimulation
  • Live/dead cells
  • Microbial community
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Toxicity sensor


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