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Vol. 255, 2020

Effects of exogenous N-acyl-homoserine lactones on nutrient removal, sludge properties and microbial community structures during activated sludge process

Xu Yana, Shikan Zhenga, Zhaoman Huoa, Bowen Shia, Jiajun Huanga, Jie Yanga, Jiahui Maa, Yunping Hanb, Yan Wangc, Ke Chenga, Jinglan Fenga, Jianhui Suna

School of Environment, Key Laboratory for Yellow River and Huai River Water Environment and Pollution Control, Ministry of Education, Henan Key Laboratory for Environmental Pollution Control, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, 453007, Henan, China


This study investigated the effects of exogenous N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL) signal molecules, N-hexanoyl-l-homoserine lactone (C6-HSL) and N-octanoyl-l-homoserine lactone (C8-HSL), on treatment performance, sludge properties and microbial community structures in activated sludge systems. Results showed that the nitrification and denitrification efficiencies were enhanced with the addition of signal molecules. The particle size, irregularity, and internal mass transfer resistance of activated sludge flocs (ASFs) increased, primarily because dosing AHLs led to a content increase and chemical composition variation of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in sludge. Microbial analysis indicated an increase in both the bacterial richness and diversity of the systems. The relative abundances of the key functional groups, including bacteria related to C and N removal and EPS production, varied correspondingly. This study presents an insight into the comprehensive understanding of the effects of AHL-based quorum sensing on activated sludge treatment process.

Graphical abstract

Keywords: Quorum sensing, N-acyl-homoserine lactone, Sludge properties, Microbial community, Activated sludge process

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