Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 3, pp 1445–1457 | Cite as

Asymmetrical response of anaerobic digestion microbiota to temperature changes

  • Olivier ChapleurEmail author
  • Laurent Mazeas
  • Jean-Jacques Godon
  • Théodore Bouchez
Environmental Biotechnology


In natural settings, anaerobic digestion can take place in a wide temperature range, but industrial digesters are usually operated under either mesophilic (~35 °C) or thermophilic (~55 °C) conditions. The ability of anaerobic digestion microbiota to switch from one operating temperature to the other remains poorly documented. We therefore studied the effect of sudden temperature changes (35 °C/55 °C) in lab-scale bioreactors degrading 13C-labelled cellulose. An asymmetric behaviour was observed. In terms of methane production, after an adaptation period, mesophilic inoculum exhibited a functional resistance to temperature increase but no functional resilience when temperature was reset to 35 °C, while thermophilic inoculum methanogenic activity strongly decreased under mesophilic conditions but partially recovered when temperature was reset to 55 °C. Automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis community fingerprints evidenced a strong influence of temperature on microbial diversity, particularly pronounced and persistent for Archaea. Key phylotypes involved in 13C-cellulose degradation were identified with a coupled stable isotope probing (SIP)-16S rDNA pyrotag sequencing approach, suggesting that the hydrolytic and fermentative metabolic functions could be maintained thanks to functional redundancy between members of the class Clostridia, whereas methanogenic activity primarily relied on specialized groups affiliated either to genus Methanosarcina (mesophilic conditions), Methanothermobacter or Methanoculleus (thermophilic conditions) that were irreversibly modified by temperature increase.


Methanization Cellulose Stable isotope probing ARISA 16S 



We are grateful to Céline Madigou for precious support in achieving this work. All data are available in the supplementary material and on request from the authors. The experiments were conducted on the LABE experimental platform funded by DRRT in the framework of the CPER 2007–2014 project.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

253_2015_7046_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (751 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 751 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hydrosystems and Bioprocesses Research UnitIrsteaAntony CedexFrance
  2. 2.UR0050, Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l’EnvironnementINRANarbonneFrance

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