Water, Air, & Soil Pollution: Focus

, Volume 8, Issue 3–4, pp 311–321 | Cite as

Effect of Changing VOC Influent Composition on the Microbial Community Structure of TBABs

  • Zhangli Cai
  • George A. Sorial
  • Kai Zhang
  • Pascal Saikaly
  • Maher M. Zein
  • Daniel B. Oerther


Microbial communities in trickle bed air biofilters (TBABs) were evaluated under conditions of interchanging the feed volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and VOC mixtures. Three independent TBABs (Biofilter “A,” “B,” and “C”) were run under interchanging VOCs conditions with different initial VOCs. Two aromatic compounds (toluene and styrene) and two oxygenated compounds (methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK)) were interchanged as single solutes. Two other TBABs “D” and “E” were run for two VOC mixtures. Biofilter “D” had a VOC mixture with equal molar ratio of the four components and Biofilter “E” received a VOC mixture with its composition based on EPA 2003 emission report. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis of 16S rRNA genes was used to assess the microbial richness in TBABs for treating the VOC mixtures and the impact of interchanging VOCs on the bacterial community structure in the biofilters. The results from DGGE indicated that the microbial community structure in the biofilter was different after each interchange of VOCs. Some bands of microbial species faded and some bands were strengthened. For the two TBABs treating VOC mixtures, the microbial species did not show significant difference, but the richness among these species was different from each other.


Biofiltration DGGE 16S rRNA Trickle bed air biofilter VOCs 



This research was supported by National Science Foundation under award # BES 0229135. The finding and conclusions expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors and do not necessary reflect the views of the Foundation. Special thanks are given to Dr. Lei Wang and Li Yang, who significantly helped with the PCR experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhangli Cai
    • 1
  • George A. Sorial
    • 1
  • Kai Zhang
    • 1
  • Pascal Saikaly
    • 1
  • Maher M. Zein
    • 1
  • Daniel B. Oerther
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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