Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 12, pp 5327–5337 | Cite as

Characterization of the bacterial community involved in the bioflocculation process of wastewater organic matter in high-loaded MBRs

  • L. Faust
  • M. Szendy
  • C. M. Plugge
  • P. F. H. van den Brink
  • H. Temmink
  • H. H. M. Rijnaarts
Environmental biotechnology


High-loaded membrane bioreactors (HL-MBRs), i.e., bioreactors equipped with a membrane for biomass retention and operated at extremely short sludge and hydraulic retention times, can concentrate sewage organic matter to facilitate subsequent energy and chemical recovery from these organics. Bioflocculation, accomplished by microorganisms that produce extracellular polymers, is a very important mechanism in these reactors. Bacterial diversity of the sludge and supernatant fraction of HL-MBRs operated at very short sludge retention times (0.125, 0.5, and 1 day) were determined using a PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and clone library approach and compared to the diversity in sewage. Already at a sludge retention time (SRT) of 0.125 day, a distinct bacterial community developed compared to the community in sewage. Bioflocculation, however, was low and the majority of the bacteria, especially Arcobacter, were present in the supernatant fraction. Upon increasing SRT from 0.125 to 1 day, a much stronger bioflocculation was accompanied by an increased abundance of Bacteroidetes in the (solid) sludge fraction: 27.5 % at an SRT of 0.5 day and 46.4 % at an SRT of 1 day. Furthermore, cluster analysis of DGGE profiles revealed that the bacterial community structure in the sludge was different from that in the supernatant. To localize specific bacterial classes in the sludge flocs, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was carried out with three different bacterial probes. This showed that Betaproteobacteria formed clusters in the sludge flocs whereas Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were mainly present as single cells.


Bioflocculation Bacterial community Membrane bioreactor Wastewater treatment 



This work was performed in the cooperation framework of Wetsus, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology ( Wetsus is co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, the European Union Regional Development Fund, the Province of Fryslân, and the Northern Netherlands Provinces. The authors like to thank the participants of the research theme “Membrane processes and operation for wastewater treatment and reuse” for the fruitful discussions and their financial support.

Supplementary material

253_2015_6402_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (697 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 697 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Faust
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Szendy
    • 3
  • C. M. Plugge
    • 1
    • 4
  • P. F. H. van den Brink
    • 1
  • H. Temmink
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. H. M. Rijnaarts
    • 2
  1. 1.Wetsus-Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water TechnologyLeeuwardenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Sub-department of Environmental TechnologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Campus Essen-Biofilm CentreUniversität Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany
  4. 4.Laboratory of MicrobiologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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