A bioaugmentation strategy to recover methane production under sulfate-stressed conditions: Highlights on targeted sulfate-reducing bacteria and DIET-related species

Ginevra Giangeri, Panagiotis Tsapekos, Maria Gaspari, Parisa Ghofrani-Isfahani, Laura Treu, Panagiotis Kougias, Stefano Campanaro*, Irini Angelidaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Bioaugmentation has been recognized as a key strategy to improve the anaerobic digestion efficiency in organic waste treatment. Methanosarcina barkeri possesses direct interspecies electron transfer capability, a characteristic that allows it to outcompete other unwanted species such as sulfate-reducing bacteria. This study investigated the effects of bioaugmentation with Methanosarcina barkeri DSM800 on two continuous-stirred tank reactors fed with a sulfate-rich feedstock. One of the two reactors was supplemented with magnetite to facilitate direct interspecies electron transfer. Time series quantitative polymerase chain reactions were performed to evaluate the absolute abundance of crucial species, including the augmented Methanosarcina. Results showed increased and stabilized methane production of 22% and 21% in the reactor amended with magnetite and in the control reactor, respectively. Moreover, volatile fatty acids were almost completely consumed in the magnetite-supplemented reactor. The quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to analyze the abundance of targeted species in response to bioaugmentation. Specifically, Methanosarcina barkeri was not retained in either reactor after one hydraulic retention time. Direct interspecies electron transfer-associated microorganisms showed opposite trends in the two reactors, highlighting the different interactions with Methanosarcina barkeri in the presence and absence of magnetite. Sulfate-reducing bacteria following the dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway exhibited an opposite behavior in the reactor amended with magnetite, in contrast to those employing the assimilatory sulfate reduction pathway. Overall, the study demonstrated that bioaugmentation with exogenous archaea can considerably alter the microbial community, but the introduced species is not able to establish itself in a stable microbiome. In addition, the strategy could be further tested to control H2S production in real-world waste treatment scenarios. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction proved to be a useful tool for monitoring changes in the absolute abundance of microorganisms in bioreactors, implementing effective monitoring and control strategies to improve overall system performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122940
JournalApplied Energy
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Direct interspecies electron transfer
  • Methanosarcina barkeri
  • Quantitative polymerase chain reaction


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