Change in ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms in enriched nitrifying activated sludge

Puntipar Sonthiphand, Tawan Limpiyakorn
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2011, 89 (3): 843-53
In this study, sludge was taken from a municipal wastewater treatment plant that contained a nearly equal number of archaeal amoA genes (5.70 × 10⁶ ± 3.30 × 10⁵ copies mg sludge⁻¹) to bacterial amoA genes (8.60 × 10⁶ ± 7.64 × 10⁵ copies mg sludge⁻¹) and enriched in three continuous-flow reactors receiving an inorganic medium containing different ammonium concentrations: 2, 10, and 30 mM NH (4) (+) -N (28, 140, and 420 mg N l⁻¹). The abundance and communities of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in enriched nitrifying activated sludge (NAS) were monitored at days 60 and 360 of the operation. Early on, between day 0 and day 60 of reactor operation, comparative abundance of AOA amoA genes to AOB amoA genes varied among the reactors depending on the ammonium levels found in the reactors. As compared to the seed sludge, the number of AOA amoA genes was unchanged in the reactor with lower ammonium level (0.06 ± 0.04 mgN l⁻¹), while in the reactors with higher ammonium levels (0.51 ± 0.33 and 0.25 ± 0.10 mgN l⁻¹), the numbers of AOA amoA genes were deteriorated. By day 360, AOA disappeared from the ammonia-oxidizing consortiums in all reactors. The majority of the AOA sequences from all NASs at each sampling period fell into a single AOA cluster, however, suggesting that the ammonium did not affect the AOA communities under this operational condition. This result is contradictory to the case of AOB, where the communities varied significantly among the NASs. AOB with a high affinity for ammonia were present in the reactors with lower ammonium levels, whereas AOB with a low affinity to ammonia existed in the reactors with higher ammonium levels.

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