Diversity of the resident microbiota in a thermophilic municipal biogas plant

  • Agnes Weiss
  • Valérie Jérôme
  • Ruth Freitag
  • Helmut K. Mayer
Environmental Biotechnology


Biogas plants continuously convert biological wastes mainly into a mixture of methane, CO2 and H2O—a conversion that is carried out by a consortium of bacteria and archaea. Especially in the municipal plants dedicated towards waste treatment, the reactor feed may vary considerably, exposing the resident microbiota to a changing variety of substrates. To evaluate how and if such changes influence the microbiology, an established biogas plant (6,600 m3, up to 600 m3 biogas per h) was followed over the course of more than 2 years via polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA genes and subsequent sequencing. Both the bacterial and the archaeal community remained stable over the investigation. Of the bacterial consortium, about half of the sequences were in decreasing order of occurrence: Thermoacetogenium sp., Anaerobaculum mobile, Clostridium ultunense, Petrotoga sp., Lactobacillus hammesii, Butyrivibrio sp., Syntrophococcus sucromutans, Olsenella sp., Tepidanaerobacter sp., Sporanaerobacter acetigenes, Pseudoramibacter alactolyticus, Lactobacillus fuchuensis or Lactobacillus sakei, Lactobacillus parabrevis or Lactobacillus spicheri and Enterococcus faecalis. The other half matched closely to ones from similar habitats (thermophilic anaerobic methanogenic digestion). The archaea consisted of Methanobrevibacter sp., Methanoculleus bourgensis, Methanosphaera stadtmanae, Methanimicrococcus blatticola and uncultured Methanomicrobiales. The role of these species in methane production is discussed.


Biogas plant Cloning DGGE Methanogenic consortium Microbiota 



The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by Bayerische Forschungsstiftung, Germany, within the project “Molecular biological and procedural characterisation as well as modelling and optimisation of an established biogas plant”. We thank all members of the project team at Rauschert Verfahrenstechnik GmbH and BKW Fürstenwalde GmbH, as well as at the Department of Hydrology and the Chair for Process Biotechnology at the University of Bayreuth for their cooperation and helpful suggestions. The authors especially thank Iris Biedermann (BOKU, Vienna) and Jochen Fesseler (University of Bayreuth) for their assistance with the DGGE and the cloning. Melanie Krist (University of Bayreuth) assisted with the cloning and sequencing experiments. Ms Likke Likke, Department of Hydrology, University of Bayreuth kindly made the acetate data available to us.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnes Weiss
    • 1
  • Valérie Jérôme
    • 1
  • Ruth Freitag
    • 1
  • Helmut K. Mayer
    • 2
  1. 1.Process BiotechnologyUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.Department of Food Sciences and Technology, Food Chemistry Division, BOKUUniversity of Natural Resources and Applied Life SciencesViennaAustria

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