Evolution of the microbial community structure in biogas reactors inoculated with seeds from different origin

Na Duan, Panagiotis Kougias*, Stefano Campanaro, Laura Treu, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The aim of this work was to provide solid proofs regarding the achievement of “steady-state conditions”, which means that the performance of the anaerobic digester is representative of the applied environmental conditions. For this reason, we investigated how, starting from different inoculum sources (i.e., municipal wastewater treatment, bio-waste treatment, and agricultural waste biogas plant), the microbial community adapted to the operational parameters and led to stable biogas production in thermophilic digesters treating the same influent feedstock. The results revealed that the different system achieved similar process performance and microbial community structure after a period that was equal to four hydraulic retention times, approved by a constant pH of 7.89 ± 0.08, 7.92 ± 0.05 and 7.85 ± 0.08, respectively, and stable TAN concentration of 1500 mg/L. Moreover, it was found that the microbial composition of the inocula was a key factor for the speed of achieving stable process performance; thus, a pre-adapted to the influent feedstock inoculum can shorten the stabilization process. On the contrary, after long term reactor operation, the microbial structure was shaped according to the chemical composition of the influent feedstock. The results of the study can also be used as a guide in future researches on anaerobic degradation, particularly in determining the time interval of an experiment to reflect changes in the microbial community of anaerobic digester.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144981
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Cattle manure
  • Inoculum
  • Microbiome evolution
  • Steady state

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