Full-scale applications of autotrophic nitrogen removal technologies for the treatment of digested sludge liquor have proliferated during the last decade. Among these technologies, the aerobic/anoxic deammonification process (DEMON) is one of the major applied processes. This technology achieves nitrogen removal from wastewater through anammox metabolism inside a single bioreactor due to alternating cycles of aeration. To date, microbial community composition of full-scale DEMON bioreactors have never been reported. In this study, bacterial community structure of a full-scale DEMON bioreactor located at the Apeldoorn wastewater treatment plant was analyzed using pyrosequencing. This technique provided a higher-resolution study of the bacterial assemblage of the system compared to other techniques used in lab-scale DEMON bioreactors. Results showed that the DEMON bioreactor was a complex ecosystem where ammonium oxidizing bacteria, anammox bacteria and many other bacterial phylotypes coexist. The potential ecological role of all phylotypes found was discussed. Thus, metagenomic analysis through pyrosequencing offered new perspectives over the functioning of the DEMON bioreactor by exhaustive identification of microorganisms, which play a key role in the performance of bioreactors. In this way, pyrosequencing has been proven as a helpful tool for the in-depth investigation of the functioning of bioreactors at microbiological scale.
- Wastewater treatment