Comparison of single-stage and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems – Performance and microbial community dynamics

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Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxxContents lists available at ScienceDirectChemospherejournal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate /chemosphereComparison of single-stage and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestionsystems Performance and microbial community dynamicshttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.0280045-6535/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Abbreviations: AD, anaerobic digestion; CSTR, continuously stirred tank reactor;DGGE, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid; HRT,hydraulic retention time; OLR, organic loading rate; PCR, polymerase chainreaction; qPCR, quantitative polymerase chain reaction; rRNA, ribosomalribonucleic acid; SRT, solid retention time; TS, total solids; VFA, volatile fattyacids; VS, volatile solids; VSS, volatile suspended solids. Corresponding authors at: Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre,Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Nanyang TechnologicalUniversity, 1 Cleantech Loop, Singapore 637141, Singapore. Tel.: +65 94896165(G. Chenghong), +65 67906813 (W.J. Ng).E-mail addresses: CHGUO@ntu.edu.sg (C. Guo), WJNg@ntu.edu.sg (W.J. Ng).Please cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stage and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performanmicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Yogananda Maspolim a,b, Yan Zhou a, Chenghong Guo a,b,, Keke Xiao a,b, Wun Jern Ng a,b,aAdvanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre, Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Cleantech Loop,Singapore 637141, SingaporebDivision of Environmental and Water Resources, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue,Singapore 639798, Singaporea r t i c l e i n f oArticle history:Received 26 January 2014Received in revised form 3 July 2014Accepted 7 July 2014Available online xxxxHandling Editor: Y. LiuKeywords:Two-phase anaerobic digestionMunicipal sludgeBiogasMicrobial communityDGGEqPCRa b s t r a c tThis study compared reactor performance and the respective microbial community dynamics in the con-ventional single-stage and 2-phase anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, treating municipal sludge to gen-erate methane. The 2-phase systems COD and VS reduction, and methane production could bemaintained throughout the three HRTs tested (p = 0.05), which was associated with an increase in organicloading (30 d = 1.5 g COD L1 d1, 20 d = 2.2 g COD L1 d1 and 10 d = 3.5 g COD L1 d1); but this was notso in the single-stage system where it deteriorated at HRT of 10 d (p = 0.05) due to impairment of partic-ulate COD reduction. qPCR, DGGE and the subsequent phylogenetic analysis revealed that microbialadaptation occurred as the seed sludge formed a different community in each reactor at 30 d HRT; how-ever, no further significant microbial shift occurred at lower HRTs. The presence of specific hydrolytic andacidogenic Flavobacteriales and Clostriales in the acidogenic reactor may have allowed for enhancedhydrolysis and acidogenesis, leading to higher organic loading tolerance at 10 d HRT. Methanogenic activ-ity in the acidogenic reactor may have been performed by Methanobacteriales and Methanosarcinaceae.Operation of the acidogenic reactor at neutral pH may have to be considered to ensure the cultivationof propionate oxidising bacteria, which could in turn, prevent reactor souring during high loadconditions. 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.1. IntroductionMunicipal sludge is an inevitable by-product in current state-of-the-art of municipal wastewater treatment. Anaerobic digestion(AD) has commonly been applied to reduce the solids content andthe pathogenic and vector attraction potential, while recoveringrenewable source of energy in the form of methane. AD involvesa series of biological steps, namely hydrolysis, acidogenesis, aceto-genesis and finally, methanogenesis (Angelidaki et al., 2000).Hydrolysis, often the rate-limiting step during sludge AD, wouldinitially disintegrate and solubilise protein, carbohydrates and lip-ids into their simpler derivatives by physicochemical dissolutionand microbial enzymatic reaction. The next two steps would thenbe performed by chemoorganotrophic microorganisms whichobtained energy by fermentation or respiration reactions, utilisingamino acids, saccharides, LCFAs, glycerol or different species of VFAas electron donor. Methanogenic bacteria then utilise acetic acidand hydrogen as the main electron donor for methane and carbondioxide production (Angelidaki et al., 2000). Hence, stabilisation oforganic solids and liquid components is achieved, yielding carbondioxide and methane. However, high concentration of VFA mayaccumulate during sludge digestion in a single-stage AD configura-tion operated at high organic loading rate (OLR) or shortenedhydraulic retention time (HRT). The accumulated VFA woulddecrease system pH, and ultimately cause process failure.Optimisation of the AD process to achieve more efficient sludgestabilisation led to phased AD system (Ghosh et al., 1995). Acido-genic bacteria have growth rates which are magnitudes faster thance andhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028mailto:CHGUO@ntu.edu.sgmailto:WJNg@ntu.edu.sghttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00456535http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chemospherehttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.0282 Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxxthe methanogenic bacteria. In the conventional high-rate AD reac-tor, an extended SRT is necessary to accommodate for the cultiva-tion of slower growing methanogenic bacteria. However, reactoroperation at extended SRTs and neutral pH may suppress theacidogenic bacterias capacity to produce VFA, the intermediatesfor methanogenesis (Ghosh, 1987). Physical separation of the ADprocess into its acidogenesis and methanogenesis phases canalleviate this problem, and also help in controlling VFA conversionby the acetogenic and methanogenic bacteria, avoiding sourdigestion. Process improvements in terms of solid and pathogenreduction, biogas production and foaming alleviation, comparedto the conventional high-rate single-stage AD, had been reportedpreviously (Ghosh et al., 1995; Bhattacharya et al., 1996).Besides solids reduction, process stability is another key param-eter to be considered. Fluctuating OLR and especially during sharphigh excursions could affect process performance. Methanogenicbacteria are slow-growing and at short SRTs may be washed outfrom the reactor. The imbalance between acidogens and methano-gens can then lead to accumulation of VFA at inhibitory levels(Ghosh et al., 1995). The opportunity to shorten SRTs while stillmaintaining digestion performance is welcomed because it wouldallow reduction of reactor size for a given load.Understanding the complex interactions of microorganismsinvolved in the AD process is of interest for better process control.Previous studies had focused on characterising the microbial pop-ulation in the single-stage sludge AD process (Raskin et al., 1995;Rivire et al., 2009; Shin et al., 2010b), but rarely in the phasedAD configuration (Zhang and Noike, 1991; Shin et al., 2010a), andespecially for phased AD treating sewage sludge (Shimada et al.,2011). Microbial characterisation of 2-phase microbial communityhad been attempted using clone library technique at a singleorganic loading (Shimada et al., 2011); but, varied organic loadingswould likely impact on the microbial dynamics.Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the perfor-mance of two municipal sludge digestion systems single-stageand 2-phase AD configurations operated at various organic loadingconditions. The consequent microbial dynamics and systems per-formance would then be correlated.2. Materials and methods2.1. Reactor start-up and operationThe single-stage reactor set was a single 50 L working volumedigester vessel. The 2-phase setup had a 7.5 L acidogenic reactor(phase 1) preceding a 42.5 L methanogenic reactor (phase 2). Thereactor operating conditions are as summarised in Table 1. Theworking volumes of the 2-phase reactors were adjusted as HRTswere reduced from 30 d to 20 d, and finally to 12 d. As the HRTswere reduced, the OLR had increased from 1.5 to 2.2 and 3.5 gCOD L1 d1, respectively. The reactors were operated in CSTRfashion, so the HRT = SRT. Temperature of all reactors was con-trolled at 35 C; pH of the acidogenic reactor was pH 5.5, whilethe single-stage and methanogenic reactors were controlled atpH 7.0. pH was maintained by automated dosing of 1 M hydro-chloric acid or 1 M sodium hydroxide. All reactors were seededwith anaerobic sludge collected from an anaerobic digester at alocal wastewater reclamation plant. The sludge substrate usedwas a mixture of municipal primary and secondary sludge fromthe same water reclamation plant. Its characteristic was42300 3600 mg total COD L1; 2500 1000 mg soluble CODL1; 32.1 2.6 g TS L1; 25.7 2.0 g VS L1; and pH 5.9 0.2.Sludge substrate was collected weekly and stored at 4 C beforeuse.Please cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1012.2. Analytical methodsSamples were collected twice weekly from all reactors. Chemi-cal oxygen demand (COD), total solids (TS), total suspended solids(TSS), volatile solids (VS), volatile suspended solids (VSS) weremeasured according to procedures in Standard Methods (APHA,2005). Daily biogas volume produced was measured with a ther-mal-based gas flowmeter (McMillan, USA), fitted on the bioreactor.Biogas composition was assessed using gas chromatography (GC)(7890A, Agilent, USA) with a thermal conductivity detector.Various volatile fatty acids (VFA) and their concentrations weremeasured using the same GC model (Agilent, USA) but fitted withthe ZB-FFAP column (Phenomenex, USA) and a flame ionisationdetector. VFA samples were prepared by centrifuging a sludgesample at 13000g for 5 min before filtering through a 0.2 lm nylonmembrane.2.3. DNA extraction and storageBefore extraction, the sludge sample was diluted to reduce TSconcentration to below 2 g L1 to ensure maximum extraction effi-ciency. 1 mL duplicates of the sample were then washed twicewith phosphate buffered saline by centrifugation (20000g for2 min) and resuspension. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) wasextracted using an automated DNA extraction kit (MagNA Pure,Roche Diagnostic GmBH, Germany) following the manufacturersrecommended protocol. Extracted DNA was stored at 20 Cbefore PCR amplification was performed.2.4. DGGE and phylogenetic identificationBacterial and archaeal community structures were studied bytargeting the 16s ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) gene. Touch-down PCR protocol and the bacterial-(GC-BAC338F, BAC805R),archaeal-specific (GC-ARC787F, ARC1059R) primers and theirrespective GC clamps followed those used by Shin et al. (2010a).PCR product was run on DGGE using DCode system (Bio-Rad,USA) with 8% (w/v) acrylamide, where the 100% denaturantcontained 7 M urea and 40% (v/v) formamide. Bacterial DGGEwas run on 3060% denaturing gradient, while archaeal DGGE on4070% gradient. The gel was run at 85 V for 14 h in TAE buffer(1X). The gel was subsequently stained with ethidium bromideand documented using GelDoc XR + system (BioRad, USA).Bands of interest were cut and eluted in 50 lL of nuclease-freewater overnight. 2 lL of eluted DNA solution was amplified usingthe same bacterial and archaeal primers as above, without theGC clamps (Shin et al., 2010a). PCR products were purified from2% agarose gel, cloned into pGEM-T Easy vector (Promega, USA)and sequenced. Resulting sequences were compared against refer-ence database in the GenBank, using BLAST (http://blast.ncbi.nlm.-nih.gov/). Neighbour-joining trees were then constructed withMEGA5 software using Jukes-Cantor algorithm and bootstrapped1000 times.2.5. qPCRQuantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was performedusing primer/probe sets targeting the same 16s rRNA genes, spe-cific for Bacteria and Archaea as mentioned above, but withoutthe GC clamps. The two-step PCR amplification protocol, the prim-ers and TaqMan probes of 16s rRNA genes for identifying archaealorders Methanobacteriales, Methanomicrobiales; and families Met-hanosarcinaceae, Methanoaetaceae followed those described by Yuet al. (2005). qPCR was performed using LightCycler 480 (Rochege and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance and6/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Table 1Summary of reactor operating parameters and performance in single-stage and 2-phase AD.Single-stage 2-phase systemHRT (d) 30 20 12 30 20 12pH 7.0 OLR COD (g COD L1 d1) 1.5 0.2 2.2 0.2 3.5 0.3 1.5 0.2 2.1 0.3 3.5 0.3OLR VS (g VS L1 d1) 0.9 0.1 1.3 0.1 2.1 0.2 0.9 0.1 1.3 0.1 2.1 0.2Soluble COD (mg COD L1) 490 50 620 100 460 70Particulate COD (mg COD L1) 27300 1500 25600 2200 28500 1500Total COD reduction (%) 38.6 5.1 39.2 6.5 30.8 6.1 42.3 5.6 40.9 4.7 40.7 5.7VS reduction (%) 31.7 6.4 32.2 5.5 26.3 6.1 31.8 6.9 31.6 4.8 35.5 6.6Total VFA (mg COD L1) 26 18 20 12 18 10Methane production (L d1) 9.4 1.2 11.7 1.5 15.6 2.0 10.0 1.5 12.7 0.9 20.6 1.9Methane yield (L g COD added1) 0.13 0.04 0.12 0.01 0.10 0.01 0.16 0.02 0.14 0.02 0.14 0.03Methane yield (L g VS added1) 0.22 0.08 0.2 0.01 0.16 0.01 0.27 0.04 0.22 0.01 0.22 0.04Biogas composition Methane (%) 66 1 64 1 65 1Carbondioxide (%) 32 1 34 1 34 1Nitrogen (%) 1 1 2 1 1 1Acidogenic 2-phase Methanogenic 2-phaseHRT (d) 5 3 2 25 17 10pH 5.5 7.0OLR COD (g COD L1 d1) 9.2 1.0 14.3 1.6 20.9 2.0 1.7 0.2 2.2 0.1 3.5 0.2OLR VS (g VS L1 d1) 5.3 0.6 8.7 0.7 12.8 1.2 1.0 0.08 1.3 0.08 2.2 0.2Soluble COD (mg COD L1) 4,800 1000 4400 700 2,900 510 440 50 580 110 450 70Particulate COD (mg COD L1) 37600 3500 33400 2000 32200 2200 25800 1100 24600 960 24000 1400Total COD reduction (%) 7.5 6.8 11.4 6.0 15.4 6.0 37.6 5.4 33.3 2.8 29.9 4.7VS reduction (%) 9.4 6.7 12.9 5.0 12.5 3.7 24.7 5.2 21.5 4.0 26.3 6.6Total VFA (mg COD L1) 2,706 546 2,471 258 1,667 410 32 24 44 17 94 62Methane production (L d1) 2.4 0.4 3.1 0.6 4.1 0.4 7.8 1.4 9.6 0.8 16.5 2.1Methane yield (L g COD added1) 0.04 0.01 0.03 0.01 0.03 0.002 0.13 0.02 0.11 0.01 0.13 0.02Methane yield (L g VS added1) 0.06 0.02 0.05 0.01 0.04 0.002 0.22 0.03 0.19 0.02 0.20 0.03Biogas composition Methane (%) 48 2 48 2 49 2 67 1 67 1 66 3Carbondioxide (%) 48 3 50 1 48 2 30 1 32 1 30 3Nitrogen (%) 4 2 2 1 3 2 2 2 1 1 3 4Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxx 3Diagnostics GmBH, Germany) with LightCycler480 TaqMan ProbeMaster (Roche Diagnostics GmBH, Germany) system. Eachextracted DNA duplicate was analysed by qPCR. Standard curvesfor the qPCR analysis were prepared as previously described (Yuet al., 2005). The calibrated number of DNA per gram VSS wouldgive an estimated measure of quantitative abundance.3. Results3.1. The performance of single stage and 2-phase sludge AD systemsThe two systems were operated for 402 d at 3 different OLR.Table 1 summarises the operating parameters and performances.Students t-test was used to evaluate the COD, VS reduction andmethane production data between the single-stage and 2-phasesystems and these were only significantly different at 12 d HRT(p < 0.05, n = 16). Mean COD and VS reduction in the single-stageAD system during 30 and 20 d HRT was around 39% and 32%,before it decreased to 30.8% and 26.3% at 12 d HRT, respectively.On the other hand, mean COD and VS reduction in the 2-phasesystem could be maintained at between 40.7% to 42.3% and31.6% to 35.5%, respectively, even when the HRT was decreasedfrom 30 to 12 d. The mean methane production graduallyincreased due to increasing OLR, ranging from 9.4 to 11.7 and15.6 L d1 at 30, 20 and 12 d HRT in the single-stage reactor. Onthe contrary, mean methane production in the 2-phase systemwas similar to single-stage AD at 30 and 20 d HRT (10.0 and12.7 L d1, respectively); but was higher at 12 d HRT (20.6 L d1).The acidogenic reactor contributed 2024% of all the methanegenerated in the 2-phase system (Table 1). Despite methanogene-sis being commonly known to proceed between pH 6.67.8, previ-ous researchers have also reported methanogenic activity in theacidogenic reactor at pH 5.8 (Ghosh et al., 1995). The biogas com-Please cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.101position in the single-stage and methanogenic reactors was 6467% methane, 3034% carbon dioxide, while the acidogenic reactorwas 4849% methane and 4850% carbon dioxide. There was lowhydrogen partial pressure found in all the anaerobic reactors(Table 2Total VFA and species concentrations in the sludge substrate and acidogenic reactor at various HRTs.Sludge substrate Acidogenic 2-phaseHRT (d) 5 3 2TVFA (mg COD L1) 1806 501 2706 546 2471 258 1667 410Acetic acid (mg COD L1) 707 194 83 36 117 25 201 77Propionic acid (mg COD L1) 513 121 1382 207 1330 180 744 256Isobutyric acid (mg COD L1) 78 19 221 69 181 25 112 29Butyric acid (mg COD L1) 200 99 246 142 147 36 122 32Isovaleric acid (mg COD L1) 155 39 469 102 404 52 254 68Valeric acid (mg COD L1) 117 54 251 93 195 34 153 38Fig. 1. DGGE gel of the (A) archaeal and (B) bacterial population in the sludge substrate, seed sludge and each anaerobic reactor at various HRTs.Table 3Archaeal and bacterial identification of the DGGE band sequences.Band(s) Closest related sequence Order/class Max identity (%)A1-5 Methanospirillum hungatei (NR_074177.1) Methanomicrobiales 98100A6-10 Methanolinea mesophila (AB447467.1) Methanomicrobiales 9798A11-12 Methanoregula formicicum (NR_102441.1) Methanomicrobiales 97A13-14 Methanoculleus receptaculi (NR_043961.1) Methanomicrobiales 99A15 Methanosarcina barkeri (NR_025303.1) Methanosarcinales 99B1-2 Cloacibacterium normanense (NR_042187.1) Flavobacteriales 100B3 Enhydrobacter sp. (JF792358.1) Pseudomonadales 97B4 Uncultured Bacteroidetes bacterium in sludge AD (CU919567.1) Flavobacteriales 99B5 Uncultured Ruminococcaceae bacterium from wetlands (JX505387.1) Clostridiales 98B6 Uncultured Fluviicola sp. from membrane bioreactor biofilm (GU257757.1) Flavobacteriales 99B7 Smithella propionica (NR_024989.1) Syntrophobacterales 96B8 Uncultured bacterium in AD treating microcystis bloom (GU559846.1) Clostridiales 89B9 Uncultured bacterium in AD treating coking wastewater (JQ446286.1) Flavobacteriales 99B10 Saccharofermentans acetigenes (AY949857.1) Clostridiales 98B11 Clostridiaceae bacterium in AD treating cattle waste (AB298771.2) Clostridiales 99B12 Uncultured bacterium from Every sludge digester (CT574084.1) Flavobacteriales 97B13 Uncultured Firmicutes bacterium in full-scale AD treating sludge (CU925891.1) Clostridiales 99B14 Uncultured Bacteroidetes in full-scale AD treating sludge (CU925607.1) Flavobacteriales 99B15 Uncultured Clostridiales bacterium treating swine manure (JN173177.1) Clostridiales 974 Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxxFig. 1A shows that the archaeal population of different reactorswere similar in all samples tested, irrespective of the HRT. Twomethanogenic orders were identified by the phylogenetic analysis,namely Methanomicrobiales and Methanosarcinales orders (Demireland Scherer, 2008). The bands A1 to A11 appeared in the sludgesubstrate, seed sludge and the 3 anaerobic reactors on all HRTstested. These bands sequences were found to be closely relatedto Methanospirillum hungatei, Methanolinea mesophila and Methan-oregula formicicum. These species were ofMethanomicrobiales orderand utilised hydrogen or formate as electron acceptor to producemethane (Demirel and Scherer, 2008). A13 and A14 appeared inPlease cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.101the single-stage and methanogenic reactors when the systemHRT was reduced to 20 d and 12 d. A13 and A14 were closelyrelated to Methanoculleus receptaculi, another species of Methano-microbiales order. A15 was affiliated to Methanosarcina barkeiwhich seemed to decrease in intensity over decreasing HRTs inthe methanogenic reactor. Methanosarcina tend to be more flexibleand can utilise a wider range of substrates as electron donor(Demirel and Scherer, 2008).The bacterial DGGE gel in Fig. 1B shows that the bacterial pro-files of sludge substrate, seed sludge and the various anaerobicreactors were distinct. Acidogenic reactor population did not seemge and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance and6/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Fig. 2. Neighbour-joining tree presenting the archaeal phylogenetic affiliation to the DGGE band sequences.Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxx 5to change significantly as HRT decreased. There were also bandswhich consistently appeared in all the samples as well as thosewhich were distinct for a particular sample. For instance, B3 toB6 appeared in all samples, while B9, B12 and B15 were observedonly in the acidogenic reactor. Phylogenetic identification demon-strated that Clostridiales, Flavobacteriales, Pseudomonadales andSyntrophobacteriales were the four bacterial orders identified inthe anaerobic reactors. Unfortunately, many of the bacterialsequences could not be affiliated to cultured, classified microor-ganism. B3 was closely related (97%) to Enhydrobacter species ofPseudomonadales order. B4 and B6 matched (99%) to unculturedBacteroidetes bacterium in sludge AD (Table 3) and UnculturedFluviicola sp. from membrane bioreactor biofilm which were ofFlavobacteriales. B5 matched (98%) to uncultured Ruminococcaceaebacterium identified in wetlands of the Clostridiales (Table 3).Of those bands only found in the acidogenic reactor, B9, B12were closely related to uncultured bacterium identified in ADprocess treating coking wastewater and full-scale sludge AD pro-cess, respectively (Table 3). These sequences seemed to clusterwithin Flavobacteriales class. B15 had 97% maximum identity toUncultured Clostridiales bacterium identified in AD treating swinemanure (Table 3). Additionally, B1 and B2 were present in the aci-dogenic reactor as well as the sludge substrate. Both sequencesmatched (100%) for Cloacibacterium normanense, a facultativeanaerobic bacterium of Flavobacteriales order. This organism wasPlease cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.101isolated from the influent municipal wastewater, capable of hydro-lysing starch and gelatin (Allen et al., 2006).There were also bands which were found to be present only inthe single-stage and methanogenic reactors. B7 was closely related(96%) to Smithella propionica, a known syntrophic oxidiser, whichcooperated with hydrogenotrophic microorganisms, such ashydrogenotrophic methanogen to convert propionic acid to aceticacid (Liu et al., 1999). Clostridiales and Flavobacteriales orders couldalso be found in these anaerobic reactors. B10 and B13 wereaffiliated to Saccharofermentans acetigenes (98%) and unculturedFirmicutes bacterium in full-scale AD treating sludge (99%), respec-tively, which were both clustered within the Clostridiales. S. acetig-enes was isolated from an anaerobic reactor, capable of fermentingsaccharides (Chen et al., 2010). Lastly, B14 was closely related(99%) to uncultured Bacteroidetes in full-scale AD treating sludge,which came under the Flavobacteriales order.3.3. Microbial quantitative analysis by qPCRThe quantitative dynamics over different operational HRTs ofthe bacterial and methanogenic population was assessed by qPCR.The qPCR analysis targeted universal Bacteria, Archaea and 4 meth-anogenic orders and families, commonly found in the sludge ADprocess (Shin et al., 2010b). Fig. 4 shows the average quantificationof microbial population during each HRT when the process wasge and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance and6/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Fig. 3. Neighbour-joining tree presenting the bacterial phylogenetic affiliation to the DGGE band sequences.6 Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxxPlease cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stage and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance andmicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Fig. 4. Quantification of the Bacteria and methanogenic groups in the sludge substrate, seed sludge and anaerobic reactors by qPCR: (A) Bacteria and total methanogens;(B) Methanobacteriales and Methanomicrobiales; (C) Methanosaetaceae and Methanosarcinaceae.Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxx 7stable and had undergone at least 4 HRT cycles. The mean bacterial16s rRNA genes of the sludge substrate reduced from 1 1010 to c.5 109 DNA copies mg VSS1 in the single-stage and methanogen-ic reactors regardless of HRT, indicating cell lysis as microbial cellsdecayed during the AD process. Quantitative shift was observedwhen the biomass was adapted from the seed sludge into single-stage, acidogenic and methanogenic reactor biomass (Fig. 4).However, there was no obvious quantitative shift of the bacterialand methanogenic population tested as the HRT was decreased.Total methanogenic population in the seed sludge (3.6 108DNA copies mg VSS1) was lower than the single-stage and meth-anogenic reactors (c. 6 108 DNA copies mg VSS1), but wasslightly higher than the sludge substrate and acidogenic reactor(1 108 DNA copies mg VSS1) (Fig. 4A).Hydrogenotrophic Methanomicrobiales dominated in all sam-ples, between 80% and 90% in abundance to all the methanogens,but at varying concentrations (Fig. 4B). The results also demon-strated that the mean 16s rRNA gene concentration of Methanomi-crobiales (Fig. 4B) and Methanosaetaceae (Fig. 4C) declined as theseed sludge (3 108 and 9 106 DNA mg VSS1, respectively)evolved to the acidogenic reactor biomass (ca. 1 108 and1 106 DNA mg VSS1, respectively). Meanwhile, the mean 16srRNA gene concentration of Methanobacteriales (Fig. 4B) and Met-hanosarcinaceae (Fig. 4C) increased as the seed sludge (3 106and 2 105 DNA mg VSS1, respectively) formed the acidogenicreactor biomass (c. 1 107 and 1 106 DNA mg VSS1, respec-tively). Methanobacteriales, Methanomicrobiales (Fig. 4B) andMethanosaetaceae (Fig. 4C) were in the similar range for both thesingle-stage and the methanogenic reactors (3 107, 5 108 and1 107 DNA copies mg VSS1, respectively). Only the mean 16srRNA gene concentration of Methanosarcinaceae (Fig. 4C) wasfound to be one magnitude higher in the methanogenic reactor(3 107 DNA copies mg VSS1) than any other samples.Please cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1014. DiscussionThis study compared application of the single-stage and2-phase AD configurations in treatment of municipal sludge. Thesame working conditions in terms of the seed sludge source,substrate and temperature were applied to both configurations.The effect of decreasing HRT which inevitably increased the OLRwas evaluated. The competitive advantage of using the 2-phaseconfiguration at the shortened HRT of 12 d was shown to maintainsludge digestion and biogas production.Stable COD, VS reduction and methane yield could be main-tained at the OLR from 1.5 to 3.5 g COD L1 d1 in the 2-phaseAD configuration (Table 1). On the contrary, the single-stage ADconfiguration could not maintain the same performance once theOLR increased from 2.2 to 3.5 g COD L1 d1. To determine if meth-anogenesis was the limiting factor in the single-stage reactor AD,mean residual VFA of both single-stage and methanogenic reactorsin the mixed liquor were compared, but both were found to be low(8 Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxxThis improved performance in the 2-phase system could be dueto chemically and biologically induced reasons. By maintaining theacidogenic reactor at pH 5.5, protein may lose its conformationalstructure and be denatured as the protein was protonated(Neyens et al., 2004); or break glycosidic linkages of carbohydratesand deform their tertiary structure. All this, and disruption to theextracellular matrix, would leave the biodegradable polymersexposed for extracellular enzymes to hydrolyse (Sheng et al.,2010). Some biological cells themselves lose their viability and tur-gor pressure under acidic condition, hence assisting the lysis ofmicrobial cells (Neyens et al., 2004). Secondly, the physical separa-tion of phases in the 2-phase system may enhance the activity ofhydrolytic/acidogenic bacteria as their growth condition was opti-mised under the shortened HRT and pH 5.5 (Ghosh, 1987). Acido-genic bacteria were known to have maximum specific growth rate(lmax) of 5.1 d1, while methanogenic bacteria was 0.6 d1(Angelidaki et al., 2000). Cultivating the acidogenic bacteria underextended SRTs to accommodate the methanogenic bacteria in asingle-stage configuration is disadvantageous, as acidogenic bacte-ria would then lose their optimal microbial activity under thisstationary growth phase. This study hence also focused on theuse of molecular techniques to evaluate the microbial communitysignificance between the phase-separated and single-stage ADprocess.Microbial community profiling by DGGE revealed that the seedsludge, sludge substrate, single-stage and 2-phase AD reactorsshowed distinct bacterial fingerprints (Fig. 1B), but similar archaealfingerprints (Fig. 1A). First of all, a core bacterial group wasobserved in all the anaerobic reactors (B3B6), which were Flavo-bacteriales, Clostridiales and Enhydrobacter-related Bacteria (Table 3)and appeared to contribute to acidogenic activity (Sneath et al.,1986; Kirchman, 2002; Lynd et al., 2002). Other acidogenicFlavobacteriales and Clostridiales species (B10, B13 and B14) werealso identified in the single-stage and methanogenic reactors. Thephyla Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria and Firmicutes which containedFlavobacteriales, Pseudomonadales and Clostridiales orders, respec-tively, formed the most abundant taxonomy identified in thefull-scale AD process (Rivire et al., 2009), and the findings in thisstudy (Table 3) were similar. The accumulation of propionic acid inthe acidogenic reactor could be explained by the absence of B7, asequence closely matching the syntrophic propionate oxidiser S.propionica. The growth condition in the acidogenic reactor wasunfavourable for S. propionica, as it was not able to grow belowpH 6.3 (Liu et al., 1999). Nevertheless, the overall 2-phase ADsystem was not affected as S. propionica was detected in the meth-anogenic reactor, consuming propionic acid to Y. Maspolim et al. / Chemosphere xxx (2014) xxxxxx 9substrate volume could also affect process HRT. Too short HRTwould wash out slow-growing microorganisms with growth ratesshorter than the operational HRT applied. For instance, B9appeared to decrease in intensity as the HRT reduced from 3 to2 d in the acidogenic reactor, suggesting that this species may havebeen washed out at the shorter HRT of 2 d (Fig. 1B). Fortunately,the reduction of this bacterial species did not seem to affect theoverall 2-phase system digestion performance. Secondly, theincrease in OLR associated with the HRT reduction in the systemin this report could also create an unfavourable condition for thesensitive methanogenic bacteria, as more potentially inhibitorycompounds would be present in the reactor. Such situation is nor-mally associated with the accumulation of VFA in the anaerobicreactor whereby the conversion of acetic acid into methane isinhibited. However, the VFA concentrations in the single-stageand the methanogenic reactor were almost negligible, whichindicated both systems methanogenic populations could toleratethe increase in OLR. Evaluation of the methanogenic bacteriaquantity by qPCR showed that each methanogenic group was notaffected by the decreasing HRT. The presence of methanogenicbacteria in the sludge substrate may have helped in maintainingthe reactors methanogenic population, and hence, methanogene-sis reaction could be preserved (Figs. 1A and 4A). Thirdly, reducingthe HRT could also impair the degradation of particulate com-pounds which require extended reaction time to complete. As pre-viously discussed, this was the case with the single-stage processat 12 d HRT. On the other hand, the 2-phase process performancecould still be maintained due to the specific chemoorganotrophicbacterial population (B9, B12 and B15) cultivated in the acidogenicreactor. There was no significant change in the bacterial and archa-eal population in the acidogenic reactor as the HRT was reduced(Figs. 1 and 4). This implied that the acidogenic reactor selectedfor a specialised community structure which could tolerate thereduction in HRT from 5 to 2 d.5. ConclusionThe 2-phase AD system maintained COD and VS reduction, andmethane production when operated at 30, 20 and 10 d HRT; whilethe single-stage system performance deteriorated as the HRT wasreduced from 20 to 10 d. The latter was due to the decrease in par-ticulate COD reduction efficiency. Microbial community analysisrevealed distinct microbial profiles in the single-stage, acidogenicand methanogenic reactors, which generally persisted as the HRTwas decreased. The identification of hydrolytic and acidogenicFlavobacteriales and Clostridiales only in the acidogenic reactor couldpossibly explain the enhanced sludge digestion performance of the2-phase over the single-stage system at 10 d HRT. This study alsodiscovered the inability of propionate oxidising bacteria to growin the acidogenic reactor, and hence, suggested reconsiderationfor the latter to be operated at neutral pH.AcknowledgementsWe are grateful for funding support from the National ResearchFoundation, Singapore for the project Wastewater TreatmentPlease cite this article in press as: Maspolim, Y., et al. Comparison of single-stamicrobial community dynamics. Chemosphere (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.101Plants as Urban Eco Power Stations. The authors also acknowledgeDr. Jaai Kim for her standard plasmids used in the qPCR analysis.ReferencesAllen, T.D., Lawson, P.A., Collins, M.D., Falsen, E., Tanner, R.S., 2006. Cloacibacteriumnormanense gen. nov., sp. nov., a novel bacterium in the familyFlavobacteriaceae isolated from municipal wastewater. Int. J. Syst. Evol.Microbiol. 56, 13111316.Angelidaki, I., Ellegaard, L., Ahring, B.K., 2000. A comprehensive model of anaerobicbioconversion of complex substrates to biogas. 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Technol. 23, 11571166.ge and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance and6/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0005http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0005http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0005http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0005http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0010http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0010http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0015http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0015http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0020http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0020http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0020http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0025http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0025http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0025http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0030http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0030http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0030http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0035http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0035http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0035http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0040http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0040http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0045http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0045http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0045http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0050http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0050http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0055http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0055http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0055http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0060http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0060http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0060http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0065http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0065http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0065http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0070http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0070http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0070http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0075http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0075http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0075http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0080http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0080http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0080http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0085http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0085http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0085http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0090http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0090http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0090http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0095http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0095http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0095http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0100http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0100http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0100http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0105http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0105http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0105http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0115http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0115http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0115http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0120http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0120http://refhub.elsevier.com/S0045-6535(14)00888-1/h0120http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.028Comparison of single-stage and two-phase anaerobic sludge digestion systems Performance and microbial community dynamics1 Introduction2 Materials and methods2.1 Reactor start-up and operation2.2 Analytical methods2.3 DNA extraction and storage2.4 DGGE and phylogenetic identification2.5 qPCR3 Results3.1 The performance of single stage and 2-phase sludge AD systems3.2 Bacterial and archaeal profiles3.3 Microbial quantitative analysis by qPCR4 Discussion5 ConclusionAcknowledgementsReferences

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