Evaluation on the microbial interactions of anaerobic ammonium oxidizers and heterotrophs in Anammox biofilm

Bing-Jie Ni, Mael Ruscalleda, Barth F. Smets

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Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (Anammox) is a cost-effective new process to treat high-strength nitrogenous wastewater. In this work, the microbial interactions of anaerobic ammonium oxidizers and heterotrophs through the exchange of soluble microbial products (SMP) in Anammox biofilm and the affecting factors were evaluated with both experimental and modeling approaches. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis illustrated that Anammox bacteria and heterotrophs accounted for 77% and 23% of the total bacteria, respectively, even without addition of an external carbon source. Experimental results showed the heterotrophs could grow both on SMP and decay released substrate from the metabolism of the Anammox bacteria. However, heterotrophic growth in Anammox biofilm (23%) was significantly lower than that of nitrifying biofilm (30–50%). The model predictions matched well with the experimental observations of the bacterial distribution, as well as the nitrogenous transformations in batch and continuous experiments. The modeling results showed that low nitrogen surface loading resulted in a lower availability of SMP leading to low heterotrophic growth in Anammox biofilm, but high nitrogen surface loading would lead to relative stable biomass fractions although the absolute heterotrophic growth increased. Meanwhile, increasing biofilm thickness increased heterotrophic growth but has little influence on the relative biomass fractions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)4645-4652
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Anammox
  • Microbial interactions
  • Biomass fractions
  • Heterotrophic growth
  • Biofilm
  • Soluble microbial products
  • Model

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