Biodegradation of specified risk material and characterization of actinobacterial communities in laboratory-scale composters
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- Xu, S., Douglas Inglis, G., Reuter, T. et al. Biodegradation (2011) 22: 1029. doi:10.1007/s10532-011-9461-5
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As a result of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada, specific tissues at risk of harbouring prions are not allowed to enter the food chain. Composting may be a viable alternative to rendering and land filling for the disposal of specified risk material (SRM). Two types of laboratory-scale composters, actively-heated and ambient systems were constructed to assess the biodegradation of SRM over 30 days. A second heating cycle was generated by mixing the compost after 15 days. Compared to ambient composters, temperature profiles in actively-heated composters were above 50°C for 5 and 4 days longer in the first and second composting cycles, respectively. Degradation of SRM was similar between two composter types during two composting cycles, averaging 52.2% in the first cycle and 43.9% in second cycle. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) revealed that changes in the actinobacteria populations in the first composting cycle were of a temporal nature, whereas alterations in populations in the second composting cycle were more related to active heating of compost. Sequencing of the dominant DGGE bands showed the predominance of Corynebacterium, Promicromonospora, Pseudonocardia, and Thermobifida in the first composting cycle and Corynebacterium, Mycobacterium, Nocardia, Saccharomonospora, and Streptomyces in the second composting cycle. Active heating can alter the nature of actinobacteria populations in compost, but does not appear to have a major impact on the extent of degradation of SRM.