Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 544–550 | Cite as

The effect of aromatic structure on the inhibition of acetoclastic methanogenesis in granular sludge

  • Reyes Sierra-Alvarez
  • Gatze Lettinga
Environmental Biotechnology


Benzene derivatives are important constituents of certain effluents discharged by pulp and paper, petrochemical and chemical industries. The anaerobic treatment of these waste-waters can be limited due to methanogenic inhibition exerted by aromatic compounds. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of aromatic structure on acetoclastic methanogenic inhibition. The toxicity to acetoclastic methanogens was assayed in serum flasks utilizing granular sludge as inoculum. Among the monosubstituted benzenes, chlorobenzene, methoxybenzene and benzaldehyde were the most toxic with 50% inhibition occurring at concentrations of 3.4, 4.2 and 5.2 mm, respectively. In contrast, benzoate was the least inhibitory: concentrations up to 57.3 mm were non-toxic. In general, the toxicity of aromatic compounds increased with increasing length of aliphatic side-chains, increasing the number of alkyl or chlorine groups. The logarithm of the partition coefficient octanol/water (log P), an indicator of hydrophobicity, was observed to be positively correlated with the methanogenic inhibition. The results indicate that hydrophobicity is an important factor contributing to the high toxicity of the most inhibitory aromatic compounds.


Sludge Partition Coefficient Aromatic Compound Benzaldehyde Chlorobenzene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reyes Sierra-Alvarez
    • 1
  • Gatze Lettinga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental TechnologyWageningen Agricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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