Development of microbial communities in biofilm and activated sludge in a hybrid reactor

Martyna Godzieba, Monika Żubrowska-Sudoł, Justyna Walczak, Sławomir Ciesielski

Microorganisms play a key role in biological wastewater treatment. The form in which biomass develops determines the efficiency and mechanisms of organic compound conversion, due to different conditions in various microbial structures. However, the results of studies comparing the microbial communities in biofilm and activated sludge have often conflicted. Therefore, this study compared the composition and development of the bacterial communities in biofilm and activated sludge in a hybrid reactor, employing 16S rRNA sequencing. Statistical analysis of the sequencing data included the identification of taxa characteristic to the biofilm and activated sludge, alpha and beta diversity analysis, and network analysis. These analyses indicated that the biofilm bacterial community was richer and more diverse than the activated sludge community. The mean numbers of OTU were 1614 in the biofilm and 993 in the activated sludge, and the mean values of the Chao1 (1735 vs. 1105) and Shannon (5.3 vs. 4.3) biodiversity indices were significantly higher for the biofilm. The biofilm was a better environment for development of nitrifiers (e.g., NitrosomonasNitrospira) and phosphorus accumulating organisms (Candidatus Accumulibacter). Bacteria in the biofilm co-occurrence network had more connections (based on Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient) with each other, indicating that they interact more than those in the activated sludge.

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