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Scientific Reports Volume 12 ,Issue 1 ,2022-10-18
Using bioelectrohydrogenesis left-over residues as a future potential fertilizer for soil amendment
Fabrice Ndayisenga 1 , 2 , 3 Zhisheng Yu 1 , 2 , 3 Bobo Wang 1 , 3 Jie Yang 1 , 2 , 3 Gang Wu 1 , 4 Hongxun Zhang 1 , 2 , 3
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Received 2022-5-24, accepted for publication 2022-10-18, Published 2022-10-18

In this current research, the left-over residues collected from the dark fermentation-microbial electrolysis cells (DF-MEC) integrated system solely biocatalyzed by activated sludge during the bioconversion of the agricultural straw wastes into hydrogen energy, was investigated for its feasibility to be used as a potential alternative biofertilizer to the commonly costly inorganic ones. The results revealed that the electrohydrogenesis left-over residues enriched various plant growth-promoting microbial communities including Enterobacter (8.57%), Paenibacillus (1.18%), Mycobacterium (0.77%), Pseudomonas (0.65%), Bradyrhizobium (0.12%), Azospirillum (0.11%), and Mesorhizobium (0.1%) that are generally known for their ability to produce different essential phytohormones such as indole-3-acetic acid/indole acetic acid (IAA) and Gibberellins for plant growth. Moreover, they also contain both phosphate-solubilizing and nitrogen-fixing microbial communities that remarkably provide an adequate amount of assimilable phosphorus and nitrogen required for enhanced plants or crop growth. Furthermore, macro-, and micronutrients (including N, P, K, etc.) were all analyzed from the residues and detected adequate appreciate concentrations required for plant growth promotions. The direct application of MEC-effluent as fertilizer in this current study conspicuously promoted plant growth (Solanum lycopersicum L. (tomato), Capsicum annuum L. (chilli), and Solanum melongena L. (brinjal)) and speeded up flowering and fruit-generating processes. Based on these findings, electrohydrogenesis residues could undoubtedly be considered as a potential biofertilizer. Thus, this technology provides a new approach to agricultural residue control and concomitantly provides a sustainable, cheap, and eco-friendly biofertilizer that could replace the chemical costly fertilizers.


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Schematic diagram illustrating the general concept of using the straw waste-fed MEC effluent as a potential biofertilizer.

The abundance of the Plant growth-promoting bacteria (genus level) detected from the DF-MEC digestate (%).

Mechanism of nitrogen fixation bio-catalyzed by nitrogenase enzyme. The plant growth-promoting bacteria produce nitrogenase which is a complex enzyme consisting of dinitrogenase reductase and dinitrogenase. This complex enzyme plays a major role in molecular N2 fixation. Dinitrogenase reductase provides electrons and dinitrogenase uses those electrons to reduce N2 to NH3. However, oxygen is a potential threat to this process since it has the ability to get bound to the enzyme complex and make it inactive and consequently inhibit the process. Interestingly, bacterial leghemoglobin has a strong affinity for O2 and thus gets bound to free oxygen more strongly and effectively to suppress the available oxygen effects on the whole process of nitrogen fixation.

Inorganic phosphorus solubilization by phosphate-solubilizing rhizobacteria. A bacterium solubilizes inorganic phosphorus through the action of low molecular weight organic acids such as gluconic and citric acids. The hydroxyl (OH) and carboxyl (COOH) groups of these acids chelate the cations bound to phosphate and thus convert insoluble phosphorus into a soluble organic form. The mineralization of soluble phosphorus occurs by synthesizing different phosphatases which catalyze the hydrolysis process. When plants incorporate these solubilized and mineralized phosphorus molecules, eventually, overall plant growth and crop yield significantly increase.

Macro-, and micronutrients detected from the bio-electrohydrogenesis left-over residues (mg/L).

Analysis of the plant growth at the end of the 1st month of cultivation. (a) Tomato in soil with effluent, and its control without effluent (b); (c) Chilli grown in soil with effluent, and its control without effluent (d); and (e) brinjal grown in soil with effluent, and its corresponding control grown without effluent (f) (after 2 months).

Daily plant growth analysis within one month of cultivation. (a) Tomato growth monitoring, (b) Chili growth analysis.

Analysis of plant growth characterized by the flowering and fruiting process at the end of the 3 months. (a) Chili grown in soil with effluent, and its control without effluent (b); (c) brinjal grown in soil with effluent and its corresponding control grown without effluent (d).


Zhisheng Yu.College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 A Yuquan Road, 100049, Beijing, People’s Republic of China;Binzhou Institute of Technology, Weiqiao-UCAS Science and Technology Park, 256606, Binzhou, Shandong, People’s Republic of China;RCEES-IMCAS-UCAS Joint-Lab of Microbial Technology for Environmental Science, 100085, Beijing, People’s Republic of China.yuzs@ucas.ac.cn


Fabrice Ndayisenga,Zhisheng Yu,Bobo Wang,Jie Yang,Gang Wu,Hongxun Zhang. Using bioelectrohydrogenesis left-over residues as a future potential fertilizer for soil amendment. Scientific Reports ,Vol.12, Issue 1(2022)



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