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The role of inoculum and reactor configuration for microbial community composition and dynamics in mainstream partial nitritation anammox reactors

10 Mar 2017


Implementation of partial nitritation anammox (PNA) in the mainstream (municipal wastewater treatment) is still under investigation. Microbial community structure and reactor type can influence the performance of PNA reactor; yet, little is known about the role of the community composition of the inoculum and the reactor configuration under mainstream conditions. Therefore, this study investigated the community structure of inocula of different origin and their consecutive community dynamics in four different lab-scale PNA reactors with 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. These reactors were operated for almost 1 year and subjected to realistic seasonal temperature fluctuations as in moderate climate regions, that is, from 20°C in summer to 10°C in winter. The sequencing analysis revealed that the bacterial community in the reactors comprised: (1) a nitrifying community (consisting of anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AnAOB), ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB)); (2) different heterotrophic denitrifying bacteria and other putative heterotrophic bacteria (HB). The nitrifying community was the same in all four reactors at the genus level, although the biomasses were of different origin. Community dynamics revealed a stable community in the moving bed biofilm reactors (MBBR) in contrast to the sequencing batch reactors (SBR) at the genus level. Moreover, the reactor design seemed to influence the community dynamics, and reactor operation significantly influenced the overall community composition. The MBBR seems to be the reactor type of choice for mainstream wastewater treatment.

Microbial community of partial nitritation anammox (PNA) systems extends beyond aerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AnAOB). Similar community members were found in different full-scale PNA systems, similar AOB and AnAOB members but different reactors performed differently. Community structure of carrier based reactors was more stable compared to suspended biomass-based reactors under mainstream conditions. Carrier-based reactors seem suitable for mainstream PNA systems.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in MicrobiologyOpen