Increasing concentrations of phenol progressively affect anaerobic digestion of cellulose and associated microbial communities
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Performance stability is a key issue when managing anaerobic digesters. However it can be affected by external disturbances caused by micropollutants. In this study the influence of phenol on the methanization of cellulose was evaluated through batch toxicity assays. Special attention was given to the dynamics of microbial communities by means of automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis. We observed that, as phenol concentrations increased, the different steps of anaerobic cellulose digestion were unevenly and progressively affected, methanogenesis being the most sensitive: specific methanogenic activity was half-inhibited at 1.40 g/L of phenol, whereas hydrolysis of cellulose and its fermentation to VFA were observed at up to 2.00 g/L. Depending on the level of phenol, microbial communities resisted either through physiological or structural adaptation. Thus, performances at 0.50 g/L were maintained in spite of the microbial community’s shift. However, the communities’ ability to adapt was limited and performances decreased drastically beyond 2.00 g/L of phenol.
KeywordsARISA EC50 Inhibition Micropollutants Phenol degradation
We are grateful to Julien Guieu for the English editing of the manuscript.
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