Funding Information Veolia Water and the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation (FTP-ReSCoBiR) funded the present study. Maël Ruscalleda was supported by the FI and BE (BE-2009-385) grant programmes from the Catalan Government (AGAUR).
Sequentially aerated membrane biofilm reactors for autotrophic nitrogen removal: microbial community composition and dynamics
Article first published online: 1 OCT 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Microbial Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 32–43, January 2014
How to Cite
Pellicer-Nàcher, C., Franck, S., Gülay, A., Ruscalleda, M., Terada, A., Al-Soud, W. A., Hansen, M. A., Sørensen, S. J. and Smets, B. F. (2014), Sequentially aerated membrane biofilm reactors for autotrophic nitrogen removal: microbial community composition and dynamics. Microbial Biotechnology, 7: 32–43. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12079
- Issue published online: 10 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 1 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 21 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Received: 22 JAN 2013
- Veolia Water
- Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation (FTP-ReSCoBiR)
- Catalan Government (AGAUR). Grant Number: BE-2009-385
Membrane-aerated biofilm reactors performing autotrophic nitrogen removal can be successfully applied to treat concentrated nitrogen streams. However, their process performance is seriously hampered by the growth of nitrite oxidizing bacteria (NOB). In this work we document how sequential aeration can bring the rapid and long-term suppression of NOB and the onset of the activity of anaerobic ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AnAOB). Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses confirmed that such shift in performance was mirrored by a change in population densities, with a very drastic reduction of the NOB Nitrospira and Nitrobacter and a 10-fold increase in AnAOB numbers. The study of biofilm sections with relevant 16S rRNA fluorescent probes revealed strongly stratified biofilm structures fostering aerobic ammonium oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in biofilm areas close to the membrane surface (rich in oxygen) and AnAOB in regions neighbouring the liquid phase. Both communities were separated by a transition region potentially populated by denitrifying heterotrophic bacteria. AOB and AnAOB bacterial groups were more abundant and diverse than NOB, and dominated by the r-strategists Nitrosomonas europaea and Ca. Brocadia anammoxidans, respectively. Taken together, the present work presents tools to better engineer, monitor and control the microbial communities that support robust, sustainable and efficient nitrogen removal.