, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 555-562

Microbial community in anaerobic hydrogen-producing microflora enriched from sludge compost

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Hydrogen production by thermophilic anaerobic microflora enriched from sludge compost was studied by using an artificial medium containing cellulose powder. Hydrogen gas was evolved with the formation of acetate, ethanol, and butyrate by decomposition of the cellulose powder. The hydrogen production yield was 2.0 mol/mol-hexose by either batch or chemostat cultivation. A medium that did not contain peptone demonstrated a lower hydrogen production yield of 1.0 mol/mol-hexose with less formation of butyrate. The microbial community in the microflora was investigated through isolation of the microorganisms by both plating and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of the PCR-amplified V3 region of 16S rDNA. Sixty-eight microorganisms were isolated from the microflora and classified into nine distinct groups by genetic fingerprinting of the PCR-DGGE or by a random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis and determination of the partial sequence of 16S rDNA. Most of the isolates belonged to the cluster of the thermophilic Clostridium/Bacillus subphylum of low G+C gram-positive bacteria. Product formation by most of the isolated strains corresponded to that produced by the microflora. Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum was isolated in the enrichment culture with or without added peptone, and was detected with strong intensity by PCR-DGGE. Two other thermophilic cellulolytic microorganisms, Clostridium thermocellum and Clostridium cellulosi, were also detected by PCR-DGGE, although they could not be isolated. These findings imply that hydrogen production from cellulose by microflora is performed by a consortium of several species of microorganisms.

Received revision: 7 July 2001
Electronic Publication