Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 547–551 | Cite as

Nitrite (not free nitrous acid) is the main inhibitor of the anammox process at common pH conditions

  • D. PuyolEmail author
  • J. M. Carvajal-Arroyo
  • R. Sierra-Alvarez
  • J. A. Field
Original Research Paper


Nitrite is a substrate but also an inhibitor of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox).There is currently no consensus on whether ionized nitrite (INi) or free nitrous acid (FNA) is the actual inhibitor of the process. The inhibition by INi and FNA on the anammox process has been analysed using a wide range of INi and FNA concentrations and by altering the pH and total nitrite conditions. The inhibitory impacts of both species were quantified through a rational inhibition equation, considering INi and FNA as substrate inhibitor and non-competitive inhibitor, respectively. Inhibitory constants were calculated with strong statistical support as 561 mg INi-N l−1 and 0.117 mg FNA-N l−1. Based on the model, INi is the main inhibiting species of the anammox process at pH > 7.1, which are the most common conditions occurring in field applications of anammox.


Anaerobic ammonium oxidation Anammox Free nitrous acid Inhibition Kinetics Nitrite 



This work has been supported by the University of Arizona Water Sustainability Program, and by the National Science Foundation (under Contract CBET-1234211). D. Puyol wishes to thank the Spanish Ministry of Education, the USA Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) and the Spanish Fulbright Commission for receiving a post-doctoral Fulbright grant. In memory of José Antonio Santos González (R.I.P.).

Supplementary material

10529_2013_1397_MOESM1_ESM.docx (58 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 57 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Puyol
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. M. Carvajal-Arroyo
    • 1
  • R. Sierra-Alvarez
    • 1
  • J. A. Field
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Environmental EngineeringThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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