Journal of Applied Microbiology, Vol.128, No.3, 907-918, 2020
Effects of quorum quenching on temporal succession of activated sludge microbial community in a membrane bioreactor
Aims Quorum quenching (QQ) is an attractive strategy for mitigating biofouling in membrane bioreactors (MBRs). However, the effects of QQ on the activated sludge (AS) process have not been adequately evaluated. This study investigated the long-term effects of QQ on a laboratory-scale anoxic-oxic MBR, focusing on AS performance and microbial community. Methods and Results Anoxic-oxic MBRs with and without QQ were operated for 91 days. QQ did not affect COD and TN removal efficiencies over the experimental period, during which its activity remained >90%. QQ reduced floc size by approximately 8% but had no effect on biomass concentration. AS microbial communities were regularly analysed using massively parallel sequencing. AS bacterial communities were temporally dynamic irrespective of QQ presence, for example, a temporal increase in bacterial diversity and a temporal decay of community similarity. QQ counteracted the temporal change in diversity and the temporal distance-community decay. Community comparison revealed that QQ changed the successional trajectory of the AS community at a late period, because it decelerated temporal changes of specific members, such as Thiothrix and Sphingomonadaceae*. Correlation networks revealed that QQ increased network clustering, complexity and density. The combined results suggest that the tighter microbial association by QQ increased the community resistance. Conclusions QQ can enhance the diversity and stability of the AS community in MBR by counteracting the innate temporal change in community structure. Significance and Impact of the Study Our findings are useful for the further advancement of QQ-based strategies in engineered microbial environments.