Electrochemical communication in anaerobic digestion

Sung T. Oh, Soo Jung Kang, Aqil Azizi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
194 Downloads (Pure)


Anaerobic microbial consortia in AD or fermentation oxidise or reduce a target organics (including nutrients) in order to share (i.e. extract and utilise) thermodynamic enthalpy energy (i.e. ATP with thermal energy). Herein, the oxidation and reduction (i.e. electrochemical reaction) is a type of biochemical reaction that involves a transfer of electrons or hydrogens between two species and or taxa. The review discusses an electrochemical communication in the bacterial communal society leading to a 'bacterial cartel' which can be a type of struggling for life (to obtain the biochemical energy constantly). Interestingly, syntrophic bacteria (mostly acetogenic bacteria) bind or flocculate the AD bacterial consortia and build two-layer biofilms or bioflocs to obtain the energy while producing a peculiar profile of fatty acids. The hydrolytic fermentative bacteria also dissociate with acidogenic bacteria for an association with the syntrophic bacteria when Δψ approaches at between –200 and –250 mV. Three examples (single–methanogenesis, long–chain fatty acid (LCFA) degradation and acid–fermentation process) explain in the electrochemical origin. This concept remains quite controversial, but if true, may have major implications in broad areas of environmental and biological processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-889
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date24 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioflocculation
  • Bioflocs biofilms
  • ATP Energy Association
  • Taxonomic phylogenetic analysis
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Fermentation
  • Syntrophic bacteria
  • Natural selection


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