Bacteria as an Electron Shuttle for Sulfide Oxidation

Annemiek ter Heijne*, Rieks de Rink, Dandan Liu, Johannes B.M. Klok, Cees J.N. Buisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Biological desulfurization under haloalkaliphilic conditions is a widely applied process, in which haloalkalophilic sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) oxidize dissolved sulfide with oxygen as the final electron acceptor. We show that these SOB can shuttle electrons from sulfide to an electrode, producing electricity. Reactor solutions from two different biodesulfurization installations were used, containing different SOB communities; 0.2 mM sulfide was added to the reactor solutions with SOB in absence of oxygen, and sulfide was removed from the solution. Subsequently, the reactor solutions with SOB, and the centrifuged reactor solutions without SOB, were transferred to an electrochemical cell, where they were contacted with an anode. Charge recovery was studied at different anode potentials. At an anode potential of +0.1 V versus Ag/AgCl, average current densities of 0.48 and 0.24 A/m2 were measured for the two reactor solutions with SOB. Current was negligible for reactor solutions without SOB. We postulate that these differences in current are related to differences in microbial community composition. Potential mechanisms for charge storage in SOB are proposed. The ability of SOB to shuttle electrons from sulfide to an electrode offers new opportunities for developing a more sustainable desulfurization process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-499
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018


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