Enriched ammonia-tolerant methanogenic cultures as bioaugmentation inocula in continuous biomethanation processes

Ioannis Fotidis, Laura Treu, Irini Angelidaki

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

207 Downloads (Pure)


Many ammonia-rich biomass sources, such as manures and protein-rich substrates, are potential inhibitors of the anaerobic digestion (AD) process. It was previously demonstrated that bioaugmentation of Methanoculleus bourgensis MS2T in an ammonia inhibited process in a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), resulted in up to 90% recovery of the methane production compared to the uninhibited production. However, cultivation of pure strains has practical difficulties due to the need of special growth media and sterile conditions. In contrast, acclimatized enriched cultures have minor sterility requirements. In the current study, an enriched ammonia-tolerant methanogenic culture was bioaugmented in a CSTR reactor operating under ammonia-induced, inhibited-steady-state. The results demonstrated that bioaugmentation, completely counteracted the ammonia toxicity effect. This indicates that a commercial application of bioaugmentation could improve up to 36% the methane production, the greenhouse gas reduction efficiency and the gross revenue of ammonia inhibited full scale biogas reactors. 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that bioaugmentation changed the microbial composition of the reactors resulting in higher bacterial and lower archaeal community diversity. The bioaugmented reactor showed a fourfold increase of the abundance of the bioaugmented methanogens compared to the control reactor. This indicates that ammonia-tolerant methanogens established well in the ammonia-inhibited reactor and dominated over the domestic methanogenic population. Finally, this study showed that the enriched culture alleviated ammonia toxicity 25% more efficiently than the previously used pure culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Pages (from-to)1305-1313
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ammonia toxicity
  • Archaeon
  • Aceticlastic methanogen
  • Bacterium
  • Hydrogenotrophic methanogen


Dive into the research topics of 'Enriched ammonia-tolerant methanogenic cultures as bioaugmentation inocula in continuous biomethanation processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this