Microbial adaptation to high ammonia levels during anaerobic digestion of manure‐based feedstock; Biomethanation and 16S rRNA gene sequencing

S.D. Kalamaras, S. Vasileiadis, P. Karas, Irini Angelidaki, T. A. Kotsopoulos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Microbial consortia resistant to high ammonia concentrations may rescue biogas production from high ammonia containing wastes and manures during anaerobic digestion. Microbial communities were gradually enriched via sequential batch cultivations (stepwise exposure) at increasing ammonia concentrations up to the extremely high concentration of 9 g of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) L‐1. This study examined the adaptation of anaerobic microbial consortia to high ammonia concentrations by the use of a complex substrate based on manure in order to generate tailor‐made inocula for bioaugmentation purposes. RNA analysis was performed to determine the microbial community composition and activity of anaerobic bacteria and methanogens.

The enrichment series were successful in terms of methane production at ammonia concentrations as high as 5 g of TAN L‐1 in comparison with the control concentration of 2 g of TAN L‐1. Methanosarcina was the core active dominant methanogen in all enrichment cultures and its relative activity was sharply increased at 3 g and 9 g of TAN L‐1. Cellulolytic bacteria activity mostly decreased with ammonia increase. Moreover, syntrophic butyrate and long‐chain fatty acids degraders along with hydrogenotrophic methanogens were activated at increased ammonia levels.

The results of the study demonstrated an efficient method to enrich ammonia tolerant microbial consortia for bioaugmentation purposes in biogas reactors with concentrations up to 5 g of TAN L‐1. RNA analysis revealed high relative abundances of Methanosarcina and hydrogenotrophic methanogens at high concentrations of ammonia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1970-1979
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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