Archaeal diversity in biofilm technologies applied to treat urban and industrial wastewater: Recent advances and future prospects

Kadiya Calderón*, Alejandro González-Martínez, Cinta Gómez-Silván, Francisco Osorio, Belén Rodelas, Jesús González-López

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Biological wastewater treatment (WWT) frequently relies on biofilms for the removal of anthropogenic contaminants. The use of inert carrier materials to support biofilm development is often required, although under certain operating conditions microorganisms yield structures called granules, dense aggregates of self-immobilized cells with the characteristics of biofilms maintained in suspension. Molecular techniques have been successfully applied in recent years to identify the prokaryotic communities inhabiting biofilms in WWT plants. Although methanogenic Archaea are widely acknowledged as key players for the degradation of organic matter in anaerobic bioreactors, other biotechnological functions fulfilled by Archaea are less explored, and research on their significance and potential for WWT is largely needed. In addition, the occurrence of biofilms in WWT plants can sometimes be a source of operational problems. This is the case for membrane bioreactors (MBR), an advanced technology that combines conventional biological treatment with membrane filtration, which is strongly limited by biofouling, defined as the undesirable accumulation of microbial biofilms and other materials on membrane surfaces. The prevalence and spatial distribution of archaeal communities in biofilm-based WWT as well as their role in biofouling are reviewed here, in order to illustrate the significance of this prokaryotic cellular lineage in engineered environments devoted to WWT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18572-18598
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2013
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Archaea
  • Biofilm
  • Biofouling
  • Granular sludge
  • MBR
  • Membrane bioreactor
  • Wastewater treatment
  • WWT


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