Stability in a Denitrifying Fluidized Bed Reactor
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This study evaluates changes in the microbial community structure and function of a pilot-scale denitrifying fluidized bed reactor during periods of constant operating conditions and periods of perturbation. The perturbations consisted of a shutdown period without feed, two disturbances in which biofilms were mechanically sheared from carrier particles, and a twofold step increase in feed nitrate concentration. In the absence of perturbations, nitrate removal was stable and consistently greater than 99%. The structure and dynamics of the microbial community were studied using cloning and sequencing techniques and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) of the SSU rRNA gene. Under unperturbed operating conditions, stable function was accompanied by high constancy and low variability of community structure with the majority of terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs) appearing throughout operation at consistent relative abundances. Several of the consistently present T-RFs correlated with clone sequences closely related to Acidovorax (98% similarity), Dechloromonas (99% similarity), and Zoogloea (98% similarity), genera recently identified by molecular analyses of similar systems. Significant changes in community structure and function were not observed after the shutdown period. In contrast, following the increase in loading rate and the mechanical disturbances, new T-RFs appeared. After both mechanical disturbances, function and community structure recovered. However, function was much more resilient than community structure. The similarity of response to the mechanical disturbances despite differences in community structure and operating conditions suggests that flexible community structure and potentially the activity of minor members under nonperturbation conditions promotes system recovery.
KeywordsClone Library Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Mechanical Disturbance Carrier Particle Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis
We thank Qi Ye for assistance in 16S rRNA sequencing of bacterial isolates. This research was supported by the Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research program, Biological and Environmental Research, U.S. Department of Energy under grant number DE-F603-00ER63046. Margaret Gentile was supported by a Stanford Graduate Fellowship sponsored by James Clark and a fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results program.
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