Skip to main content
Log in

Inhibition of the methanogenic fermentation of p-toluic acid (4-methylbenzoic acid) by acetate

  • Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology
  • Published:
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The potential inhibitory effect of acetate on p-toluic acid methanogenic fermentation was studied during the continuous operation at 5.3 days hydraulic retention time of an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor fed with a synthetic waste-water containing 3.67 mm p-toluic acid as sole carbon and energy source. In the absence of acetate, a chemical oxygen demand removal efficiency of 56.8% and an estimated p-toluic acid removal efficiency of 62.8% were achieved. Immediately after the addition of 58.3 mm acetate into the reactor influent, p-toluic acid degradation stopped while most of the acetate was consumed. The inhibition is explained by thermodynamic considerations. It is emphasized that such phenomena could occur during the treatment of waste-waters containing high concentrations of acetate and aromatic compounds that require a syntrophic association to be degraded to acetate and H2.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • APHA, AWWA, WPCF (1985) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 16th edn. American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  • Archer DB (1983) The microbiological basis of process control in methanogenic fermentation of soluble wastes. Enzyme Microb Technol 5:161–240

    Google Scholar 

  • Balch WE, Fox GE, Magrum LJ, Woese CR, Wolfe RS (1979) Methanogens: reevaluation of a unique biological group. Microbiol Rev 43:260–296

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Borghans AJML, Driel A van (1988) Application of the biothane UASB reactor to a chemical waste water containing phenol and formaldehyde. In: Tilche A, Rozzi A (eds) Poster Papers, 5th International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion. Bologna, Italy, 22–26 May 1988. Monduzzi Editore, Bologna, pp 627–630

    Google Scholar 

  • Dolfing J, Tiedje JM (1988) Acetate inhibition of methanogenic, syntrophic benzoate degradation. Appl Environ Microbiol 54:1871–1873

    Google Scholar 

  • Frankin RJ, Koevoets WAA (1991) Application of the Biobed up-flow fluidized bed (UFB) system for Hoechst DMT waste water. In: Poster abstracts, 6th International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion, São Paulo, Brazil, 12–16 May 1991, pp 156

  • Frankin RJ, Gils WMA van, Bergh DR van de, Blank P de (1991) Full scale anaerobic treatment of Shell waste water containing benzoate with the biothane UASB process. In: Poster Abstracts, 6th International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion, São Paulo, Brazil, 12–16 May 1991, pp 90

  • Guyot JP, Macarie H, Noyola A (1990a) Anaerobic digestion of a petrochemical wastewater using the UASB process. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 24/25:579–589

    Google Scholar 

  • Guyot JP, Noyola A, Monroy O (1990b) Evolution of microbial activities and population in granular sludge from an UASB reactor. Biotechnol Lett 12:155–160

    Google Scholar 

  • Holliger C, Stams AJM, Zehnder AJB (1988) Anaerobic degradation of recalcitrant compounds. In: Hall ER, Hobson PN (eds) Anaerobic digestion 1988, Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium. Bologna, Italy, 22–26 May 1988. Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp 211–224

    Google Scholar 

  • Horowitz A, Shelton DR, Cornell CP, Tiedje JM (1982) Anaerobic degradation of aromatic compounds in sediments and digested sludge. Dev Ind Microbiol 23:435–444

    Google Scholar 

  • Leenheer JA, Malcolm RL, White WR (1976) Investigation of the reactivity and fate of certain organic components of an industrial waste after deep-well injection. Environ Sci Technol 10:445–451

    Google Scholar 

  • Macarie H, Noyola A, Guyot JP (1992) Anaerobic treatment of a petrochemical wastewater from a terephthalic acid plant. Water Sci Technol 25:223–235

    Google Scholar 

  • Noyola A, Macarie H, Guyot JP (1990) Treatment of terephthalic acid plant wastewater with an anaerobic fixed film reactor. Environ Technol 11:239–248

    Google Scholar 

  • Reule W (1990) Methane from chemical industry wastewater (in German). Chem Ind (Düsseldorf) 113:20, 22, 24

    Google Scholar 

  • Srinivas SP, Rao G, Mutharasan R (1988) Redox potential in anaerobic and microaerobic fermentation. In: Erickson LE, Yee-Chack Fung D (eds) Handbook on anaerobic fermentations. Dekker, New York, pp 147–186

    Google Scholar 

  • Thauer RK, Morris JG (1984) Metabolism of chemotrophic anaerobes: old views and new aspects. In: Kelly DP, Carr NG (eds). The microbes, vol 2. 36th Symposium of the Society for General Microbiology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 123–168

    Google Scholar 

  • Thauer RK, Jungermann K, Decker K (1977) Energy conservation in chemotrophic anaerobic bacteria. Bacteriol Rev 41:100–180

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Correspondence to: J. P. Guyot

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Macarie, H., Guyot, JP. Inhibition of the methanogenic fermentation of p-toluic acid (4-methylbenzoic acid) by acetate. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 38, 398–402 (1992).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: