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Water Research
Vol. 90, 20
16, Pages: 395–404

Enrichment and characterization of microbial consortia degrading soluble microbial products discharged from anaerobic methanogenic bioreactors

Na-Kyung Kim, Seungdae Oh, Wen-Tso Liu

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801-2352, USA.


Soluble microbial products (SMP) produced in bioprocesses have been known as a main cause to decrease treatment efficiency, lower effluent quality, and promote membrane fouling in water reclamation plants. In this study, biological degradation of SMP using selectively enriched microbial consortia in a down-flow hanging sponge (DHS) reactor was introduced to remove SMP discharged from anaerobic methanogenic reactors. On average, 68.9–87.5% SMP removal was achieved by the enriched microbial consortia in the DHS reactor for >800 days. The influent SMP fed to the DHS reactor exhibited a bimodal molecular weight (MW) distribution with 14–20 kDa and <4 kDa. Between these two types of SMP, the small MW SMP were biodegraded in the upper part of the reactor, together with most of the large MW SMP. Using 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing technology, the microbial community composition and structure were characterized and correlated with operational factors, such as hydraulic retention time, organic loading rate, and removal of soluble chemical oxygen demand at different depths of the reactor, by performing network and redundancy analyses. The results revealed that Saprospiraceae was strongly correlated to the increasing SMP loading condition, indicating positive co-occurrences with neighboring bacterial populations. Different microbial diversity along with the depth of the reactor implies that stratified microbial communities could participate in the process of SMP degradation. Taken together, these observations indicate that the spatial and temporal variability of the enriched microbial community in the DHS reactor could effectively treat SMP with respect to changes in the operational factors.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Soluble microbial product; Biodegradation; Down-flow hanging sponge reactor; Microbial diversity; Pyrosequencing.

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