Genome-Centric Metatranscriptomics Analysis Reveals the Role of Hydrochar in Anaerobic Digestion of Waste Activated Sludge

Zhijian Shi, Stefano Campanaro, Muhammad Usman, Laura Treu, Arianna Basile, Irini Angelidaki, Shicheng Zhang, Gang Luo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Anaerobic digestion (AD) of waste activated sludge (WAS) has been widely used, while it poses problems including low methane yield and production rate. Hydrochar is produced by hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass; however, little is known about the role of hydrochar in promoting AD of WAS. The present study showed that hydrochar increased the methane production rate by 30.8% and yield by 31.4% of hydrothermal pretreated dewatered WAS. Hydrochar increased the methane production rate and yield by enhancing the acidification and methanogenesis processes. Genomic-centric metatranscriptomics were used to identify the metabolic activities and transcriptomic response of individual metagenome-assembled genomes that were enriched by hydrochar. Although Methanosarcina sp. FDU0106 had been shown unable to used H2, it had the complete pathway for the reduction of CO2 to methane. Syntrophomonas sp. FDU0164 expressed genes for extracellular electron transfer via electrically pili, suggesting that Syntrophomonas sp. FDU0164 and Methanosarcina sp. FDU0106 were exchanging electrons via direct interspecies electron transfer. The expression of pili was decreased, indicating that hydrochar could replace its roles. Additionally, Firmicutes sp. FDU0048, Proteiniphilum sp. FDU0082, and Aminobacterium mobile FDU0089 were related to the degradation of organics, which could be related to the enhanced methane yield.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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