Growth and Break-Up of Methanogenic Granules Suggests Mechanisms for Biofilm and Community Development.
ABSTRACT: 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 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:Studies investigating the feasibility of new, or improved, biotechnologies, such as wastewater treatment digesters, inevitably start with laboratory-scale trials. However, it is rarely determined whether laboratory-scale results reflect full-scale performance or microbial ecology. The Expanded Granular Sludge Bed (EGSB) bioreactor, which is a high-rate anaerobic digester configuration, was used as a model to address that knowledge gap in this study. Two laboratory-scale idealizations of the EGSB-a one-dimensional and a three- dimensional scale-down of a full-scale design-were built and operated in triplicate under near-identical conditions to a full-scale EGSB. The laboratory-scale bioreactors were seeded using biomass obtained from the full-scale bioreactor, and, spent water from the distillation of whisky from maize was applied as substrate at both scales. Over 70 days, bioreactor performance, microbial ecology, and microbial community physiology were monitored at various depths in the sludge-beds using 16S rRNA gene sequencing (V4 region), specific methanogenic activity (SMA) assays, and a range of physical and chemical monitoring methods. SMA assays indicated dominance of the hydrogenotrophic pathway at full-scale whilst a more balanced activity profile developed during the laboratory-scale trials. At each scale, Methanobacterium was the dominant methanogenic genus present. Bioreactor performance overall was better at laboratory-scale than full-scale. We observed that bioreactor design at laboratory-scale significantly influenced spatial distribution of microbial community physiology and taxonomy in the bioreactor sludge-bed, with 1-D bioreactor types promoting stratification of each. In the 1-D laboratory bioreactors, increased abundance of Firmicutes was associated with both granule position in the sludge bed and increased activity against acetate and ethanol as substrates. We further observed that stratification in the sludge-bed in 1-D laboratory-scale bioreactors was associated with increased richness in the underlying microbial community at species (OTU) level and improved overall performance.
Project description:The formation of dense, well-settling methanogenic granules is essential for the operation of high-rate, up-flow anaerobic bioreactors used for wastewater treatment. Granule formation (granulation) mechanisms have been previously proposed, but an ecological understanding of granule formation is still lacking. Additionally, much of the current research on granulation only examines the start-up phase of bioreactor operation, rather than monitoring the fate of established granules and how new granules emerge over time. This paper, therefore, attempts to provide an insight into the microbial ecology of granule formation outside the start-up phase of bioreactor operation and develop an ecological granulation model. The microbial communities of granules actively undergoing growth, breakage, and reformation were examined, and an ecological granulation model was proposed. A distinct pregranular microbial community, with a high proportion of acidogenic organisms, such as the <i>Streptococcaceae</i>, was identified and suggested to have a role in initiating granulation by providing simpler substrates for the methanogenic and syntrophic communities which developed during granule growth. After initial granule formation, deterministic influences on microbial community assembly increased with granule size and indicated that microbial community succession was influenced by granule growth, leading to the formation of a stepwise ecological model for granulation. <b>IMPORTANCE</b> Complex microbial communities in engineered environments can aggregate to form surface-attached biofilms. Others form suspended biofilms, such as methanogenic granules. The formation of dense, methanogenic granules underpins the performance of high-rate, anaerobic bioreactors in industrial wastewater treatment. Granule formation (granulation) has been well studied from a physico-chemical perspective, but the ecological basis is poorly understood. We identified a distinct, flocculent, microbial community, which was present alongside granules, comprising primary consumers likely key in providing simpler substrates to granules. This flocculent community is understudied in anaerobic digestion and may initiate, or perpetuate, granule formation. We propose that it may be possible to influence bioreactor performance (e.g., to regulate volatile fatty acid concentrations) by manipulating this community. The patterns of microbial community diversity and assembly revealed by the study indicate that cycles of granule growth and breakage lead to overall diversification of the bioreactor meta-community, with implications for bioreactor process stability.
Project description:Anaerobic digestion is a complex process involving hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesis and methanogenesis. The separation of the hydrogen-yielding (dark fermentation) and methane-yielding steps under controlled conditions permits the production of hydrogen and methane from biomass. The characterization of microbial communities developed in bioreactors is crucial for the understanding and optimization of fermentation processes. Previously we developed an effective system for hydrogen production based on long-term continuous microbial cultures grown on sugar beet molasses. Here, the acidic effluent from molasses fermentation was used as the substrate for methanogenesis in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket bioreactor. This study focused on the molecular analysis of the methane-yielding community processing the non-gaseous products of molasses fermentation. The substrate for methanogenesis produces conditions that favor the hydrogenotrophic pathway of methane synthesis. Methane production results from syntrophic metabolism whose key process is hydrogen transfer between bacteria and methanogenic Archaea. High-throughput 454 pyrosequencing of total DNA isolated from the methanogenic microbial community and bioinformatic sequence analysis revealed that the domain Bacteria was dominated by Firmicutes (mainly Clostridia), Bacteroidetes, ?- and ?-Proteobacteria, Cloacimonetes and Spirochaetes. In the domain Archaea, the order Methanomicrobiales was predominant, with Methanoculleus as the most abundant genus. The second and third most abundant members of the Archaeal community were representatives of the Methanomassiliicoccales and the Methanosarcinales. Analysis of the methanogenic sludge by scanning electron microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction showed that it was composed of small highly heterogeneous mineral-rich granules. Mineral components of methanogenic granules probably modulate syntrophic metabolism and methanogenic pathways. A rough functional analysis from shotgun data of the metagenome demonstrated that our knowledge of methanogenesis is poor and/or the enzymes responsible for methane production are highly effective, since despite reasonably good sequencing coverage, the details of the functional potential of the microbial community appeared to be incomplete.
Project description:The effect of nickel deprivation from the influent of a mesophilic (30 degrees C) methanol fed upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactor was investigated by coupling the reactor performance to the evolution of the Methanosarcina population of the bioreactor sludge. The reactor was operated at pH 7.0 and an organic loading rate (OLR) of 5-15 g COD l(-1) day(-1) for 191 days. A clear limitation of the specific methanogenic activity (SMA) on methanol due to the absence of nickel was observed after 129 days of bioreactor operation: the SMA of the sludge in medium with the complete trace metal solution except nickel amounted to 1.164 (+/-0.167) g CH(4)-COD g VSS(-1) day(-1) compared to 2.027 (+/-0.111) g CH(4)-COD g VSS(-1) day(-1) in a medium with the complete (including nickel) trace metal solution. The methanol removal efficiency during these 129 days was 99%, no volatile fatty acid (VFA) accumulation was observed and the size of the Methanosarcina population increased compared to the seed sludge. Continuation of the UASB reactor operation with the nickel limited sludge lead to incomplete methanol removal, and thus methanol accumulation in the reactor effluent from day 142 onwards. This methanol accumulation subsequently induced an increase of the acetogenic activity in the UASB reactor on day 160. On day 165, 77% of the methanol fed to the system was converted to acetate and the Methanosarcina population size had substantially decreased. Inclusion of 0.5 muM Ni (dosed as NiCl(2)) to the influent from day 165 onwards lead to the recovery of the methanol removal efficiency to 99% without VFA accumulation within 2 days of bioreactor operation.
Project description:The assembling of bacterial communities in conventional activated sludge (CAS) bioreactors was thought, until recently, to be chaotic and mostly unpredictable. Studies done over the last decade have shown that specific, and often, predictable random and non-random factors could be responsible for that process. These studies have also motivated a "structure-function" paradigm that is yet to be resolved. Thus, elucidating the factors that affect community assembly in the bioreactors is necessary for predicting fluctuations in community structure and function. For this study activated sludge samples were collected during a one-year period from two geographically distant CAS bioreactors of different size. Combining community fingerprinting analysis and operational parameters data with a robust statistical analysis, we aimed to identify relevant links between system performance and bacterial community diversity and dynamics. In addition to revealing a significant ?-diversity between the bioreactors' communities, results showed that the largest bioreactor had a less dynamic but more efficient and diverse bacterial community throughout the study. The statistical analysis also suggests that deterministic factors, as opposed to stochastic factors, may have a bigger impact on the community structure in the largest bioreactor. Furthermore, the community seems to rely mainly on mechanisms of resistance and functional redundancy to maintain functional stability. We suggest that the ecological theories behind the Island Biogeography model and the species-area relationship were appropriate to predict the assembly of bacterial communities in these CAS bioreactors. These results are of great importance for engineers and ecologists as they reveal critical aspects of CAS systems that could be applied towards improving bioreactor design and operation.
Project description:Conventional and advanced biological wastewater treatment systems generate excess sludge, which causes socio-economic and environmental issues. This study investigated the performance of membrane-controlled anoxic-oxic-anoxic (AOA) bioreactors for in-situ sludge reduction compared to the conventional anoxic-oxic-oxic membrane bioreactor (MBR<sub>control</sub>). The membrane units in the AOA bioreactors were operated as anoxic reactors at lower sludge recirculation rates to achieve hydrolysis of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and extensive endogenous respiration. Compared to MBR<sub>control</sub>, the AOA bioreactors operated with 90%, and 80% recirculation rates reduced the sludge growth up to 19% and 30%, respectively. Protein-like components were enriched in AOA bioreactors while fulvic-like components were dominant in MBR<sub>control</sub>. The growth of <i>Dechloromonas</i> and <i>Zoogloea</i> genra was promoted in AOA bioreactors and thus sludge reduction was facilitated. Metagenomics analysis uncovered that AOA bioreactors exhibited higher proportions of key genes encoding enzymes involved in the glycolysis and denitrification processes, which contributed to the utilization of carbon sources and nitrogen consumption and thus sludge reduction.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Biological activated sludge process must be functionally stable to continuously remove contaminants while relying upon the activity of complex microbial communities. However the dynamics of these communities are as yet poorly understood. A macroecology metric used to quantify community dynamic is the taxa-time relationship (TTR). Although the TTR of animal and plant species has been well documented, knowledge is still lacking in regard to TTR of microbial communities in activated sludge bioreactors.<h4>Aims</h4>1) To characterize the temporal dynamics of bacterial taxa in activated sludge from two bioreactors of different scale and investigate factors affecting such dynamics; 2) to evaluate the TTRs of activated sludge microbial communities in two bioreactors of different scale.<h4>Methods</h4>Temporal variation of bacterial taxa in activated sludge collected from a full- and lab-scale activated sludge bioreactor was monitored over a one-year period using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes. TTR was employed to quantify the bacterial taxa shifts based on the power law equation S?=?cTw.<h4>Results</h4>The power law exponent w for the full-scale bioreactor was 0.43 (R2?=?0.970), which is lower than that of the lab-scale bioreactor (w?=?0.55, R2?=?0.971). The exponents for the dominant phyla were generally higher than that of the rare phyla. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) result showed that the bacterial community variance was significantly associated with water temperature, influent (biochemical oxygen demand) BOD, bioreactor scale and dissolved oxygen (DO). Variance partitioning analyses suggested that wastewater characteristics had the greatest contribution to the bacterial community variance, explaining 20.3% of the variance of bacterial communities independently, followed by operational parameters (19.9%) and bioreactor scale (3.6%).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Results of this study suggest bacterial community dynamics were likely driven partly by wastewater and operational parameters and provide evidence that the TTR may be a fundamental ecological pattern in macro- and microbial systems.
Project description:A methanogenic bioreactor that utilized wastepaper was developed and operated at 55 degrees C. Microbial community structure analysis showed the presence of a group of clostridia that specifically occurred during the period of high fermentation efficiency. To isolate the effective cellulose digester, the sludge that exhibited high fermentation efficiency was inoculated into a synthetic medium that contained cellulose powder as the sole carbon source and was successively cultivated. A comprehensive 16S rRNA gene sequencing study revealed that the enriched culture contained various clostridia that had diverse phylogenetic positions. The microorganisms were further enriched by successive cultivation with filter paper as the substrate, as well as the bait carrier. A resultant isolate, strain EBR45 (= Clostridium sp. strain NBRC101661), was a new member of the order Clostridiales phylogenetically and physiologically related to Clostridium thermocellum and Clostridium straminisolvens. Specific PCR-based monitoring demonstrated that strain EBR45 specifically occurred during the high fermentation efficiency period in the original methanogenic sludge. Strain EBR45 effectively digested office paper in its pure cultivation system with a synthetic medium.
Project description:The conversion of organic waste streams into carboxylic acids as renewable feedstocks results in relatively dilute aqueous streams. Carboxylic acids can be recovered from such streams by using liquid-liquid extraction. Hydrophobic ionic liquids (ILs) are novel extractants that can be used for carboxylic acid recovery. To integrate these ILs as in situ extractants in several biotechnological applications, the IL must be compatible with the bioprocesses. Herein the ILs [P<sub>666,14</sub>][oleate] and [N<sub>8888</sub>][oleate] were synthesized in water and their bioprocess compatibility was assessed by temporary exposure to an aqueous phase that contained methanogenic granular sludge. After transfer of the sludge into fresh medium, [P<sub>666,14</sub>][oleate]-exposed granules were completely inhibited. Granules exposed to [N<sub>8888</sub>][oleate] sustained anaerobic digestion activity, albeit moderately reduced. The IL contaminants, bromide (5-500 ppm) and oleate (10-4000 ppm), were shown not to inhibit the methanogenic conversion of acetate. [P<sub>666,14</sub>] was identified as a bioprocess-incompatible component. However, our results showed that [N<sub>8888</sub>][oleate] was bioprocess compatible and, therefore, has potential applications in bioprocesses.