Functional Response of MBR Microbial Consortia to Substrate Stress as Revealed by Metaproteomics

  • Carlo SalernoEmail author
  • Giovanni Berardi
  • Giuseppe Laera
  • Alfieri Pollice
Environmental Microbiology


Bacterial consortia have a primary role in the biological degradations occurring in activated sludge for wastewater treatment, for their capacities to metabolize the polluting matter. Therefore, the knowledge of the main metabolic pathways for the degradation of pollutants becomes critical for a correct design and operation of wastewater treatment plants. The metabolic activity of the different bacterial groups in activated sludge is commonly investigated through respirometry. Furthermore, in the last years, the development of “omic” approaches has offered more opportunities to integrate or substitute the conventional microbiological assays and to deeply understand the taxonomy and dynamics of complex microbial consortia. In the present work, an experimental membrane bioreactor (MBR) was set up and operated for the treatment of municipal wastewater, and the effects of a sudden decrease of the organic supply on the activated sludge were investigated. Both respirometric and metaproteomic approaches revealed a resistance of autotrophic bacteria to the substrate stress, and particularly of nitrifying bacteria. Furthermore, metaproteomics allowed the identification of the taxonomy of the microbial consortium based on its protein expression, unveiling the prevalence of Sorangium and Nitrosomonas genera both before and after the organic load decrease. Moreover, it confirmed the results obtained through respirometry and revealed a general expression of proteins involved in metabolism and transport of nitrogen, or belonging to nitrifying species like Nitrosomonas europeae, Nitrosomonas sp. AL212, or Nitrospira defluvii.


MBR Metaproteomics Respirometry Proteins Nitrifiers 

Supplementary material

248_2019_1360_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (69 kb)
ESM 1 All protein affiliations to each spot found against UniProtKB. (XLSX 68 kb)
248_2019_1360_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (76 kb)
ESM 2 Functional hierarchical taxonomy through Metaproteome Unipept analysis. (XLSX 75 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRSA CNR, Water Research InstituteBariItaly

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