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Improved biohydrogen production by co-fermentation of corn straw and excess sludge: Insights into biochemical process, microbial community and metabolic genes.

The global climate change mainly caused by fossil fuels combustion promotes that zero-carbon hydrogen production through eco-friendly methods has attracted attention in recent years. This investigation explored the biohydrogen production by co-fermentation of corn straw (CS) and excess sludge (ES), as well as comprehensively analyzed the internal mechanism. The results showed that the optimal ratio of CS to ES was 9:1 (TS) with the biohydrogen yield of 101.8 mL/g VS, which was higher than that from the mono-fermentation of CS by 1.0-fold. The pattern of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) indicated that the acetate was the most preponderant by-product in all fermentation systems during the biohydrogen production process, and its yield was improved by adding appropriate dosage of ES. In addition, the content of soluble COD (SCOD) was reduced as increasing ES, while concentration of NH4 + -N showed an opposite tendency. Microbial community analysis revealed that the microbial composition in different samples showed a significant divergence. Trichococcus was the most dominant bacterial genus in the optimal ratio of 9:1 (CS/ES) fermentation system and its abundance was as high as 41.8%. The functional genes prediction found that the dominant metabolic genes and hydrogen-producing related genes had not been significantly increased in co-fermentation system (CS/ES=9:1) compared to that in the mono-fermentation of CS, implying that enhancement of biohydrogen production by adding ES mainly relied on balancing nutrients and adjusting microbial community in this study. Further redundancy analysis (RDA) confirmed that biohydrogen yield was closely correlated with the enrichment of Trichococcus.

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