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Novel Microbial Populations in Ambient and Mesophilic Biogas-Producing and Phenol-Degrading Consortia Unraveled by High-Throughput Sequencing

Abstract

Methanogenesis from wastewater-borne organics and organic solid wastes (e.g., food residues) can be severely suppressed by the presence of toxic phenols. In this work, ambient (20 °C) and mesophilic (37 °C) methane-producing and phenol-degrading consortia were enriched and characterized using high-throughput sequencing (HTS). 454 Pyrosequencing indicated novel W22 (25.0 % of bacterial sequences) in the WWE1 and Sulfurovum-resembled species (32.0 %) in the family Campylobacterales were the most abundant in mesophilic and ambient reactors, respectively, which challenges previous knowledge that Syntrophorhabdus was the most predominant. Previous findings may underestimate bacterial diversity and low-abundance bacteria, but overestimate abundance of Syntrophorhabdus. Illumina HTS revealed that archaeal populations were doubled in ambient reactor and tripled in mesophilic reactor, respectively, compared to the ∼4.9 % (of the bacteria and archaea sequences) in the seed sludge. Moreover, unlike the dominance of Methanosarcina in seed sludge, acetotrophic Methanosaeta predominated both (71.4–76.5 % of archaeal sequences) ambient and mesophilic enrichments. Noteworthy, this study, for the first time, discovered the co-occurrence of green sulfur bacteria Chlorobia, sulfur-reducing Desulfovibrio, and Sulfurovum-resembling species under ambient condition, which could presumably establish mutualistic relationships to compete with syntrophic bacteria and methanogens, leading to the deterioration of methanogenic activity. Taken together, this HTS-based study unravels the high microbial diversity and complicated bacterial interactions within the biogas-producing and phenol-degrading bioreactors, and the identification of novel bacterial species and dominant methanogens involved in the phenol degradation provides novel insights into the operation of full-scale bioreactors for maximizing biogas generation.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank GRF HKU 7190/12E for the financial support of this research. Feng Ju would like to thank the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for the postgraduate scholarship. Moreover, the authors would like to thank Dr. Feng Guo for the helpful discussion. Finally, the authors would like to thank Ms. Danping Huang for the assistance in reactor operation and Ms. Vicky Fung for the technical support.

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Correspondence to Tong Zhang.

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Ju, F., Zhang, T. Novel Microbial Populations in Ambient and Mesophilic Biogas-Producing and Phenol-Degrading Consortia Unraveled by High-Throughput Sequencing. Microb Ecol 68, 235–246 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-014-0405-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-014-0405-6

Keywords

  • Desulfovibrio
  • Phenol Degradation
  • Green Sulfur Bacterium
  • Methanosaeta
  • Seed Sludge