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Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Vol. 119 (4), 2015, Pages: 375–383

Dynamics of the microbial community during continuous methane fermentation in continuously stirred tank reactors

Yue-Qin Tang, Toru Shigematsu, Shigeru Morimura, Kenji Kida

College of Architecture and Environment, Sichuan University, No. 24, South Section 1, First Ring Road, Chengdu, Sichuan 610065, China.


Methane fermentation is an attractive technology for the treatment of organic wastes and wastewaters. However, the process is difficult to control, and treatment rates and digestion efficiency require further optimization. Understanding the microbiology mechanisms of methane fermentation is of fundamental importance to improving this process. In this review, we summarize the dynamics of microbial communities in methane fermentation chemostats that are operated using completely stirred tank reactors (CSTRs). Each chemostat was supplied with one substrate as the sole carbon source. The substrates include acetate, propionate, butyrate, long-chain fatty acids, glycerol, protein, glucose, and starch. These carbon sources are general substrates and intermediates of methane fermentation. The factors that affect the structure of the microbial community are discussed. The carbon source, the final product, and the operation conditions appear to be the main factors that affect methane fermentation and determine the structure of the microbial community. Understanding the structure of the microbial community during methane fermentation will guide the design and operation of practical wastewater treatments.

Keywords: Microbial community; Continuous stirred tank reactor; Continuous methane fermentation; Anaerobic digestion; Phylogenetic analysis; Chemostat.

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