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Biodegradation of methyl t-butyl ether by aerobic granules under a cosubstrate condition

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Abstract

Aerobic granules efficient at degrading methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) with ethanol as a cosubstrate were successfully developed in a well-mixed sequencing batch reactor (SBR). Aerobic granules were first observed about 100 days after reactor startup. Treatment efficiency of MTBE in the reactor during stable operation exceeded 99.9%, and effluent MTBE was in the range of 15–50 μg/L. The specific MTBE degradation rate was observed to increase with increasing MTBE initial concentration from 25 to 500 mg/L, which peaked at 22.7 mg MTBE/g (volatile suspended solids)·h and declined with further increases in MTBE concentration as substrate inhibition effects became significant. Microbial-community deoxyribonucleic acid profiling was carried out using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of polymerase chain reaction-amplified 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid. The reactor was found to be inhabited by several diverse bacterial species, most notably microorganisms related to the genera Sphingomonas, Methylobacterium, and Hyphomicrobium vulgare. These organisms were previously reported to be associated with MTBE biodegradation. A majority of the bands in the reactor represented a group of organisms belonging to the FlavobacteriaProteobacteria–Actinobacteridae class of bacteria. This study demonstrates that MTBE can be effectively degraded by aerobic granules under a cosubstrate condition and gives insight into the microorganisms potentially involved in the process.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 20476099) and the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province (Grant no. Y507270) for the support of this study.

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Correspondence to J. M. Chen.

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Zhang, L.L., Chen, J.M. & Fang, F. Biodegradation of methyl t-butyl ether by aerobic granules under a cosubstrate condition. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 78, 543–550 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-007-1321-1

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Keywords

  • Aerobic granule
  • MTBE
  • DGGE
  • Microbial community