Effect of sulfate on low-temperature anaerobic digestion.
ABSTRACT: The effect of sulfate addition on the stability of, and microbial community behavior in, low-temperature anaerobic expanded granular sludge bed-based bioreactors was investigated at 15°C. Efficient bioreactor performance was observed, with chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiencies of >90%, and a mean SO(2-) 4 removal rate of 98.3%. In situ methanogensis appeared unaffected at a COD: SO(2-) 4 influent ratio of 8:1, and subsequently of 3:1, and was impacted marginally only when the COD: SO(2-) 4 ratio was 1:2. Specific methanogenic activity assays indicated a complex set of interactions between sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), methanogens and homoacetogenic bacteria. SO(2-) 4 addition resulted in predominantly acetoclastic, rather than hydrogenotrophic, methanogenesis until >600 days of SO(2-) 4-influenced bioreactor operation. Temporal microbial community development was monitored by denaturation gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA genes. Fluorescence in situ hybridizations (FISH), qPCR and microsensor analysis were combined to investigate the distribution of microbial groups, and particularly SRB and methanogens, along the structure of granular biofilms. qPCR data indicated that sulfidogenic genes were present in methanogenic and sulfidogenic biofilms, indicating the potential for sulfate reduction even in bioreactors not exposed to SO(2-) 4. Although the architecture of methanogenic and sulfidogenic granules was similar, indicating the presence of SRB even in methanogenic systems, FISH with rRNA targets found that the SRB were more abundant in the sulfidogenic biofilms. Methanosaeta species were the predominant, keystone members of the archaeal community, with the complete absence of the Methanosarcina species in the experimental bioreactor by trial conclusion. Microsensor data suggested the ordered distribution of sulfate reduction and sulfide accumulation, even in methanogenic granules.
Project description:The coexistence of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and methanogenic archaea (MA) in anaerobic biofilms developed in sewer inner pipe surfaces favors the accumulation of sulfide (H2S) and methane (CH4) as metabolic end products, causing severe impacts on sewerage systems. In this study, we investigated the time course of H2S and CH4 production and emission rates during different stages of biofilm development in relation to changes in the composition of microbial biofilm communities. The study was carried out in a laboratory sewer pilot plant that mimics a full-scale anaerobic rising sewer using a combination of process data and molecular techniques (e.g., quantitative PCR [qPCR], denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis [DGGE], and 16S rRNA gene pyrotag sequencing). After 2 weeks of biofilm growth, H2S emission was notably high (290.7±72.3 mg S-H2S liter(-1) day(-1)), whereas emissions of CH4 remained low (17.9±15.9 mg COD-CH4 liter(-1) day(-1)). This contrasting trend coincided with a stable SRB community and an archaeal community composed solely of methanogens derived from the human gut (i.e., Methanobrevibacter and Methanosphaera). In turn, CH4 emissions increased after 1 year of biofilm growth (327.6±16.6 mg COD-CH4 liter(-1) day(-1)), coinciding with the replacement of methanogenic colonizers by species more adapted to sewer conditions (i.e., Methanosaeta spp.). Our study provides data that confirm the capacity of our laboratory experimental system to mimic the functioning of full-scale sewers both microbiologically and operationally in terms of sulfide and methane production, gaining insight into the complex dynamics of key microbial groups during biofilm development.
Project description:Here we describe the diversity and activity of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in sulfidogenic bioreactors by using the simultaneous analysis of PCR products obtained from DNA and RNA of the 16S rRNA and dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrAB) genes. We subsequently analyzed the amplified gene fragments by using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). We observed fewer bands in the RNA-based DGGE profiles than in the DNA-based profiles, indicating marked differences in the populations present and in those that were metabolically active at the time of sampling. Comparative sequence analyses of the bands obtained from rRNA and dsrB DGGE profiles were congruent, revealing the same SRB populations. Bioreactors that received either ethanol or isopropanol as an energy source showed the presence of SRB affiliated with Desulfobulbus rhabdoformis and/or Desulfovibrio sulfodismutans, as well as SRB related to the acetate-oxidizing Desulfobacca acetoxidans. The reactor that received wastewater containing a diverse mixture of organic compounds showed the presence of nutritionally versatile SRB affiliated with Desulfosarcina variabilis and another acetate-oxidizing SRB, affiliated with Desulfoarculus baarsii. In addition to DGGE analysis, we performed whole-cell hybridization with fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide probes to estimate the relative abundances of the dominant sulfate-reducing bacterial populations. Desulfobacca acetoxidans-like populations were most dominant (50 to 60%) relative to the total SRB communities, followed by Desulfovibrio-like populations (30 to 40%), and Desulfobulbus-like populations (15 to 20%). This study is the first to identify metabolically active SRB in sulfidogenic bioreactors by using the functional gene dsrAB as a molecular marker. The same approach can also be used to infer the ecological role of coexisting SRB in other habitats.
Project description:Methylmercury (MeHg), a neurotoxic substance that accumulates in aquatic food chains and poses a risk to human health, is synthesized by anaerobic microorganisms in the environment. To date, mercury (Hg) methylation has been attributed to sulfate- and iron-reducing bacteria (SRB and IRB, respectively). Here we report that a methanogen, Methanospirillum hungatei JF-1, methylated Hg in a sulfide-free medium at comparable rates, but with higher yields, than those observed for some SRB and IRB. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the concatenated orthologs of the Hg methylation proteins HgcA and HgcB from M. hungatei are closely related to those from known SRB and IRB methylators and that they cluster together with proteins from eight other methanogens, suggesting that these methanogens may also methylate Hg. Because all nine methanogens with HgcA and HgcB orthologs belong to the class Methanomicrobia, constituting the late-evolving methanogenic lineage, methanogenic Hg methylation could not be considered an ancient metabolic trait. Our results identify methanogens as a new guild of Hg-methylating microbes with a potentially important role in mineral-poor (sulfate- and iron-limited) anoxic freshwater environments.
Project description:Sulfate-rich mine water must be treated before it is released into natural water bodies. We tested ethanol as substrate in bioreactors designed for biological sulfate removal from mine water containing up to 9 g L-1 sulfate, using granular sludge from an industrial waste water treatment plant as inoculum. The pH, redox potential, and sulfate and sulfide concentrations were measured twice a week over a maximum of 171 days. The microbial communities in the bioreactors were characterized by qPCR and high throughput amplicon sequencing. The pH in the bioreactors fluctuated between 5.0 and 7.7 with the highest amount of up to 50% sulfate removed measured around pH 6. Dissimilatory sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) constituted only between 1% and 15% of the bacterial communities. Predicted bacterial metagenomes indicated a high prevalence of assimilatory sulfate reduction proceeding to formation of l-cystein and acetate, assimilatory and dissimilatory nitrate reduction, denitrification, and oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde with further conversion to ethanolamine, but not to acetate. Despite efforts to maintain optimal conditions for biological sulfate reduction in the bioreactors, only a small part of the microorganisms were SRB. The microbial communities were highly diverse, containing bacteria, archaea, and fungi, all of which affected the overall microbial processes in the bioreactors. While it is important to monitor specific physicochemical parameters in bioreactors, molecular assessment of the microbial communities may serve as a tool to identify biological factors affecting bioreactor functions and to optimize physicochemical attributes for ideal bioreactor performance.
Project description:Methanogenesis and sulfidogenesis, the major microbial reduction reactions occurring in the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, compete for common substrates. Therefore, the balance between methanogenic and sulfidogenic activities is important for efficient biogas production. In this study, changes in methanogenic and sulfidogenic performances in response to changes in organic loading rate (OLR) were examined in two digesters treating sulfur-rich macroalgal waste under mesophilic and thermophilic conditions, respectively. Both methanogenesis and sulfidogenesis were largely suppressed under thermophilic relative to mesophilic conditions, regardless of OLR. However, the suppressive effect was even more significant for sulfidogenesis, which may suggest an option for H2S control. The reactor microbial communities developed totally differently according to reactor temperature, with the abundance of both methanogens and sulfate-reducing bacteria being significantly higher under mesophilic conditions. In both reactors, sulfidogenic activity increased with increasing OLR. The findings of this study help to understand how temperature affects sulfidogenesis and methanogenesis during AD.
Project description:Application of seawater for secondary oil recovery stimulates the development of sulfidogenic bacteria in the oil field leading to microbially influenced corrosion of steel equipment, oil souring, and environmental issues. The aim of this work was to investigate potential sulfide producers in the high-temperature Uzen oil field (Republic of Kazakhstan) exploited with seawater flooding and the possibility of suppressing growth of sulfidogens in both planktonic and biofilm forms. Approaches used in the study included 16S rRNA and <i>dsrAB</i> gene sequencing, scanning electron microscopy, and culture-based techniques. Thermophilic hydrogenotrophic methanogens of the genus <i>Methanothermococcus</i> (phylum Euryarchaeota) predominated in water from the zone not affected by seawater flooding. Methanogens were accompanied by fermentative bacteria of the genera <i>Thermovirga</i>, <i>Defliviitoga</i>, <i>Geotoga</i>, and <i>Thermosipho</i> (phylum Thermotogae), which are potential thiosulfate- or/and sulfur-reducers. In the sulfate- and sulfide-rich formation water, the share of <i>Desulfonauticus</i> sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) increased. <i>Thermodesulforhabdus</i>, <i>Thermodesulfobacterium</i>, <i>Desulfotomaculum</i>, <i>Desulfovibrio</i>, and <i>Desulfoglaeba</i> were also detected. Mesophilic denitrifying bacteria of the genera <i>Marinobacter</i>, <i>Halomonas</i>, and <i>Pelobacter</i> inhabited the near-bottom zone of injection wells. Nitrate did not suppress sulfidogenesis in mesophilic enrichments because denitrifiers reduced nitrate to dinitrogen; however, thermophilic denitrifiers produced nitrite, an inhibitor of SRB. Enrichments and a pure culture <i>Desulfovibrio alaskensis</i> Kaz19 formed biofilms highly resistant to biocides. Our results suggest that seawater injection and temperature of the environment determine the composition and functional activity of prokaryotes in the Uzen oil field.
Project description:Acetate, propionate, and butyrate (volatile fatty acids [VFA]) occur in oil field waters and are frequently used for microbial growth of oil field consortia. We determined the kinetics of use of these VFA components (3 mM each) by an anaerobic oil field consortium in microcosms containing 2 mM sulfate and 0, 4, 6, 8, or 13 mM nitrate. Nitrate was reduced first, with a preference for acetate and propionate. Sulfate reduction then proceeded with propionate (but not butyrate) as the electron donor, whereas the fermentation of butyrate (but not propionate) was associated with methanogenesis. Microbial community analyses indicated that Paracoccus and Thauera (Paracoccus-Thauera), Desulfobulbus, and Syntrophomonas-Methanobacterium were the dominant taxa whose members catalyzed these three processes. Most-probable-number assays showed the presence of up to 107/ml of propionate-oxidizing sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in waters from the Medicine Hat Glauconitic C field. Bioreactors with the same concentrations of sulfate and VFA responded similarly to increasing concentrations of injected nitrate as observed in the microcosms: sulfide formation was prevented by adding approximately 80% of the nitrate dose needed to completely oxidize VFA to CO2 in both. Thus, this work has demonstrated that simple time-dependent observations of the use of acetate, propionate, and butyrate for nitrate reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenesis in microcosms are a good proxy for these processes in bioreactors, monitoring of which is more complex.IMPORTANCE Oil field volatile fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate were specifically used for nitrate reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenic fermentation. Time-dependent analyses of microcosms served as a good proxy for these processes in a bioreactor, mimicking a sulfide-producing (souring) oil reservoir: 80% of the nitrate dose required to oxidize volatile fatty acids to CO2 was needed to prevent souring in both. Our data also suggest that propionate is a good substrate to enumerate oil field SRB.
Project description:Methanogenic sludge granules are densely packed, small, spherical biofilms found in anaerobic digesters used to treat industrial wastewaters, where they underpin efficient organic waste conversion and biogas production. Each granule theoretically houses representative microorganisms from all of the trophic groups implicated in the successive and interdependent reactions of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process. Information on exactly how methanogenic granules develop, and their eventual fate will be important for precision management of environmental biotechnologies. Granules from a full-scale bioreactor were size-separated into small (0.6-1 mm), medium (1-1.4 mm), and large (1.4-1.8 mm) size fractions. Twelve laboratory-scale bioreactors were operated using either small, medium, or large granules, or unfractionated sludge. After >50 days of operation, the granule size distribution in each of the small, medium, and large bioreactor sets had diversified beyond-to both bigger and smaller than-the size fraction used for inoculation. Interestingly, extra-small (XS; <0.6 mm) granules were observed, and retained in all of the bioreactors, suggesting the continuous nature of granulation, and/or the breakage of larger granules into XS bits. Moreover, evidence suggested that even granules with small diameters could break. "New" granules from each emerging size were analyzed by studying community structure based on high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Methanobacterium, Aminobacterium, Propionibacteriaceae, and Desulfovibrio represented the majority of the community in new granules. H2-using, and not acetoclastic, methanogens appeared more important, and were associated with abundant syntrophic bacteria. Multivariate integration (MINT) analyses identified distinct discriminant taxa responsible for shaping the microbial communities in different-sized granules.
Project description:The population architecture of sulfidogenic biofilms established in anaerobic fixed-bed bioreactors was characterized by selective polymerase chain reaction amplification and fluorescence microscopy. A region of the 16S rRNA common to resident sulfate-reducing bacteria was selectively amplified by the polymerase chain reaction. Sequences of amplification products, with reference to a collection of 16S rRNA sequences representing most characterized sulfate-reducing bacteria, were used to design both general and specific hybridization probes. Fluorescent versions of these probes were used in combination with fluorescence microscopy to visualize specific sulfate-reducing bacterial populations within developing and established biofilms.
Project description:Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) can interact syntrophically with other community members in the absence of sulfate, and interactions with hydrogen-consuming methanogens are beneficial when these archaea consume potentially inhibitory H2 produced by the SRB. A dual continuous culture approach was used to characterize population structure within a syntrophic biofilm formed by the SRB Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough and the methanogenic archaeum Methanococcus maripaludis. Under the tested conditions, monocultures of D. vulgaris formed thin, stable biofilms, but monoculture M. maripaludis did not. Microscopy of intact syntrophic biofilm confirmed that D. vulgaris formed a scaffold for the biofilm, while intermediate and steady-state images revealed that M. maripaludis joined the biofilm later, likely in response to H2 produced by the SRB. Close interactions in structured biofilm allowed efficient transfer of H2 to M. maripaludis, and H2 was only detected in cocultures with a mutant SRB that was deficient in biofilm formation (?pilA). M. maripaludis produced more carbohydrate (uronic acid, hexose, and pentose) as a monoculture compared to total coculture biofilm, and this suggested an altered carbon flux during syntrophy. The syntrophic biofilm was structured into ridges (?300 × 50 ?m) and models predicted lactate limitation at ?50 ?m biofilm depth. The biofilm had structure that likely facilitated mass transfer of H2 and lactate, yet maximized biomass with a more even population composition (number of each organism) when compared to the bulk-phase community. Total biomass protein was equivalent in lactate-limited and lactate-excess conditions when a biofilm was present, but in the absence of biofilm, total biomass protein was significantly reduced. The results suggest that multispecies biofilms create an environment conducive to resource sharing, resulting in increased biomass retention, or carrying capacity, for cooperative populations.