Carbon nanotubes accelerate methane production in pure cultures of methanogens and in a syntrophic coculture

Andreia F. Salvador, Gilberto Martins, Manuel Melle-Franco, Ricardo Serpa, Alfons J.M. Stams, Ana J. Cavaleiro, M.A. Pereira, M.M. Alves*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Carbon materials have been reported to facilitate direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) between bacteria and methanogens improving methane production in anaerobic processes. In this work, the effect of increasing concentrations of carbon nanotubes (CNT) on the activity of pure cultures of methanogens and on typical fatty acid-degrading syntrophic methanogenic coculture was evaluated. CNT affected methane production by methanogenic cultures, although acceleration was higher for hydrogenotrophic methanogens than for acetoclastic methanogens or syntrophic coculture. Interestingly, the initial methane production rate (IMPR) by Methanobacterium formicicum cultures increased 17 times with 5 g·L−1 CNT. Butyrate conversion to methane by Syntrophomonas wolfei and Methanospirillum hungatei was enhanced (∼1.5 times) in the presence of CNT (5 g·L−1), but indications of DIET were not obtained. Increasing CNT concentrations resulted in more negative redox potentials in the anaerobic microcosms. Remarkably, without a reducing agent but in the presence of CNT, the IMPR was higher than in incubations with reducing agent. No growth was observed without reducing agent and without CNT. This finding is important to re-frame discussions and re-interpret data on the role of conductive materials as mediators of DIET in anaerobic communities. It also opens new challenges to improve methane production in engineered methanogenic processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2727-2739
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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