Bioresource Technology, Vol.100, No.14, 3678-3687, 2009
Evolution of N-converting bacteria during the start-up of anaerobic digestion coupled biological nitrogen removal pilot-scale bioreactors treating high-strength animal waste slurry
Animal wastes have been successfully employed in anaerobic biogas production, viewed as a pragmatic approach to rationalize energy costs in animal farms. Effluents resulting from that process however are still high in nitrogen such that attempts were made to couple biological nitrogen removal (BNR) with anaerobic digestion (AD). The demand for organic substrate in such system is partitioned between the anaerobic metabolism in AD and the heterotrophic denitrification cascade following the autotrophic nitrification in BNR. Investigation of underlying N-converting taxa with respect to process conditions is therefore critical in optimizing N-removal in such treatment system. In this study, a pilot-scale intermittently aerated BNR bioreactor was started up either independently or in series with the AD bioreactor to treat high-strength swine waste slurry. The compositions of NH(3)-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), NO(2)(-)-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) and denitrifiers (nosZ gene) were profiled by polymerase chain reaction-capillary electrophoresis/single strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-CE/SSCP) technique and clone library analysis. Performance data suggested that these two process configurations significantly differ in the modes of biological N-removal. PCR-CE/SSCP based profiling of the underlying nitrifying bacteria also revealed the selection of distinct taxa between process configurations. Under the investigated process conditions, correlation of performance data and composition of underlying nitrifiers suggest that the stand-alone BNR bioreactor tended to favor N-removal via NO(3)(-) whereas the coupled bioreactors could be optimized to achieve the same via a NO(2)(-) shortcut. 2 (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.