Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 726–734 | Cite as

High-diversity biofilm for the oxidation of sulfide-containing effluents

  • I. Ferrera
  • R. Massana
  • E. O. Casamayor
  • V. Balagué
  • O. Sánchez
  • C. Pedrós-Alió
  • J. Mas
Original Paper


In the present work, we describe for the first time the utilization of a complex microbial biofilm for the treatment of sulfide-containing effluents. A non-aerated packed-column reactor was inoculated with anoxic lake sediment and exposed to light. A biofilm developed in the column and showed a stable oxidation performance for several weeks. Microbial species composition was analyzed by microscopy, pigment analysis and a bacterial 16S rRNA gene clone library. Colorless sulfur bacteria, green algae and purple sulfur bacteria were observed microscopically. Pigment composition confirmed the presence of algae and purple sulfur bacteria. The clone library was dominated by alpha-Proteobacteria (mostly Rhodobacter group), followed by gamma-Proteobacteria (Chromatiaceae-like and Thiothrix-like aerobic sulfur oxidizers) and the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium-Bacteroides group. Plastid signatures from algae were also present and a few clones belonged to both the beta- (Rhodoferax sp., Thiobacillus sp.) and delta-Proteobacteria (Desulfocapsa sp.) and to the low G+C Gram-positive bacteria (Firmicutes group). The coexistence of aerobic, anaerobic, phototrophic and chemotrophic microorganisms in the biofilm, the species richness found within these metabolic groups (42 operational taxonomic units) and the microdiversity observed within some species could be very important for the long-term functioning and versatility of the reactor.


Clone Library Sulfide Oxidation Thiobacillus Green Sulfur Bacterium Purple Sulfur Bacterium 
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.



This work was supported by projects BOS2000-0139 and REN2000-0332-P4 from the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología to J.M.; and I.F. was supported by a FPI fellowship from the Generalitat de Catalunya. E.O.C. benefits from the Programa Ramón y Cajal of the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología. I.F. is especially grateful to Carles Borrego for his helpful comments about sulfur and pigment data and to Mike Gates for revising part of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Ferrera
    • 1
  • R. Massana
    • 2
  • E. O. Casamayor
    • 3
  • V. Balagué
    • 2
  • O. Sánchez
    • 1
  • C. Pedrós-Alió
    • 2
  • J. Mas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departament de Genètica i de MicrobiologiaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Institut de Ciències del MarCentre Mediterrani d’Investigacions Marines i Ambientals (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Unitat de LimnologiaCentre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CSIC)BlanesSpain

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