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Effects of Aeration Cycles on Nitrifying Bacterial Populations and Nitrogen Removal in Intermittently Aerated Reactors
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Dr Cesar Mota
Mota CR, Head M, Ridenoure J, Cheng JJ, del los Reyes FL
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
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The effects of the lengths of aeration and nonaeration periods on nitrogen removal and the nitrifying bacterial community structure were assessed in intermittently aerated (IA) reactors treating digested swine wastewater. Five IA reactors were operated in parallel with different aeration-to-nonaeration time ratios (ANA). Populations of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) were monitored using 16S rRNA slot blot hybridizations. AOB species diversity was assessed using amoA gene denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis. Nitrosomonas and Nitrosococcus mobilis were the dominant AOB and Nitrospira spp. were the dominant NOB in all reactors, although Nitrosospira and Nitrobacter were also detected at lower levels. Reactors operated with the shortest aeration time (30 min) showed the highest Nitrosospira rRNA levels, and reactors operated with the longest anoxic periods (3 and 4 h) showed the lowest levels of Nitrobacter, compared to the other reactors. Nitrosomonas sp. strain Nm107 was detected in all reactors, regardless of the reactor's performance. Close relatives of Nitrosomonas europaea, Nitrosomonas sp. strain ENI-11, and Nitrosospira multiformis were occasionally detected in all reactors. Biomass fractions of AOB and effluent ammonia concentrations were not significantly different among the reactors. NOB were more sensitive than AOB to long nonaeration periods, as nitrite accumulation and lower total NOB rRNA levels were observed for an ANA of 1 h:4 h. The reactor with the longest nonaeration time of 4 h performed partial nitrification, followed by denitrification via nitrite, whereas the other reactors removed nitrogen through traditional nitrification and denitrification via nitrate. Superior ammonia removal efficiencies were not associated with levels of specific AOB species or with higher AOB species diversity.
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