Amino Acids

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 1123–1130 | Cite as

New concepts of microbial treatment processes for the nitrogen removal: effect of protein and amino acids degradation

  • Alejandro González-Martínez
  • Kadiya Calderón
  • Jesús González-López
Invited Review


High concentrations of proteins and amino acids can be found in wastewater and wastewater stream produced in anaerobic digesters, having shown that amino acids could persist over different managements for nitrogen removal affecting the nitrogen removal processes. Nitrogen removal is completely necessary because of their implications and the significant adverse environmental impact of ammonium such as eutrophication and toxicity to aquatic life on the receiving bodies. In the last decade, the treatment of effluents with high ammonium concentration through anammox-based bioprocesses has been enhanced because these biotechnologies are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than conventional technologies. However, it has been shown that the presence of important amounts of proteins and amino acids in the effluents seriously affects the microbial autotrophic consortia leading to important losses in terms of ammonium oxidation efficiency. Particularly the presence of sulfur amino acids such as methionine and cysteine has been reported to drastically decrease the autotrophic denitrification processes as well as affect the microbial community structure promoting the decline of ammonium oxidizing bacteria in favor of other phylotypes. In this context we discuss that new biotechnological processes that improve the degradation of protein and amino acids must be considered as a priority to increase the performance of the autotrophic denitrification biotechnologies.


Amino acids Proteins Nitrogen removal Wastewater Microbial population 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest for any of the authors.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro González-Martínez
    • 1
  • Kadiya Calderón
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jesús González-López
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Built EnvironmentAalto UniversityEspooFinland
  2. 2.Ecology and Natural Resources Department, Science Faculty, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad UniversitariaMexico CityMexico
  3. 3.Institute of Water ResearchUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

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