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Powerful Soil: Utilizing Microbial Fuel Cell Construction and Design in an Introductory Biology Course

    Authors: Craig D. Jude1, Brooke A. Jude1,*
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    Affiliations: 1: Biology Program, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY 12504
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Biology Program, Bard College, 30 Campus Road, P.O. Box 5000, Annandale on Hudson, NY, 12504. Phone: 845-752-2337. E-mail: bjude@bard.edu.
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 286-288. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.934
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    Abstract:

    This tool utilizes the construction of a microbial fuel cell (MFC) as the long-term laboratory experience for an introductory biology course. Students build multiple versions of MFCs during the semester, altering a number of variables to produce a more powerful battery. Through this iterative laboratory experience, students learn experimental design strategies, microbial culturing and identification techniques, and how to construct scientific figures, legends and tables. This laboratory can also be adapted to a one-hour workshop for middle school students, facilitated by college faculty and college students. Editor's Note:The ASM advocates that students must successfully demonstrate the ability to explain and practice safe laboratory techniques. For more information, read the laboratory safety section of the ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology and the Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories, available at www.asm.org. The Editors of JMBE recommend that adopters of the protocols included in this article follow a minimum of Biosafety Level 2 practices. Adopters of the 8th grade outreach activity discussed in this article should follow Biosafety Level 1 practices.

References & Citations

1. Doherty L, Zhao Y, Zhao X, Wang W2015Nutrient and organics removal from swine slurry with simultaneous electricity generation in an alum sludge-based constructed wetland incorporating microbial fuel cell technologyChem Eng J266748110.1016/j.cej.2014.12.063 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cej.2014.12.063
2. Fang Z, Song H-L, Cang N, Li X-N2015Electricity production from Azo dye wastewater using a microbial fuel cell coupled constructed wetland operating under different operating conditionsBiosens Bioelectron6813514110.1016/j.bios.2014.12.04725562740 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2014.12.047
3. Lammert J2007Techniques in microbiologyPearson/Prentice HallUpper Saddle River, NJ
4. Li W-W, Yu H-Q2015Stimulating sediment bioremediation with benthic microbial fuel cellsBiotechnol Adv3311210.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.12.01125560929 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2014.12.011
5. Lovley DR2006Microbial fuel cells: novel microbial physiologies and engineering approachesCurr Opin Biotechnol1732733210.1016/j.copbio.2006.04.00616679010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2006.04.006
6. Lovley DR2006Bug juice: harvesting electricity with microorganismsNature Rev Microbiol449750810.1038/nrmicro1442 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro1442
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.934
2015-12-01
2017-12-18

Abstract:

This tool utilizes the construction of a microbial fuel cell (MFC) as the long-term laboratory experience for an introductory biology course. Students build multiple versions of MFCs during the semester, altering a number of variables to produce a more powerful battery. Through this iterative laboratory experience, students learn experimental design strategies, microbial culturing and identification techniques, and how to construct scientific figures, legends and tables. This laboratory can also be adapted to a one-hour workshop for middle school students, facilitated by college faculty and college students. Editor's Note:The ASM advocates that students must successfully demonstrate the ability to explain and practice safe laboratory techniques. For more information, read the laboratory safety section of the ASM Curriculum Recommendations: Introductory Course in Microbiology and the Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories, available at www.asm.org. The Editors of JMBE recommend that adopters of the protocols included in this article follow a minimum of Biosafety Level 2 practices. Adopters of the 8th grade outreach activity discussed in this article should follow Biosafety Level 1 practices.

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Figures

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FIGURE 1

Completed microbial fuel cells. (A) MFCs constructed using MudWatt kits (left) as well as a recycled tennis ball canister (right). MudWatt kit batteries pictures are displaying either the thermometer/clock or a red LED bulb. (B) MFC constructed using a rubber food storage container.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 286-288. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.934
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