Microbial dynamics in biogas digesters treating lipid-rich substrates via genome-centric metagenomics

Maria Gaspari, Laura Treu, Xinyu Zhu, Matteo Palù, Irini Angelidaki, Stefano Campanaro*, Panagiotis G Kougias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Co-digestion with lipid-rich substrates is a likely strategy in biogas plants, due to their high energy content. However, the process stability is vulnerable to inhibition due to the sudden increase of fatty-acid concentration. Therefore, techniques that promote the adaptation of the microorganisms to the presence of lipids have been proposed. In this frame, the initial hypothesis of the work was that a gradual change in feedstock composition would enable us to elucidate the microbial organisation as a result of deterministic (i.e. chemical composition of influent) and stochastic (e.g. interspecies interactions) factors. This study investigates the response of the biogas microbiome to gradual increment of the Organic Loading Rate by supplementing the influent feedstock with Na-Oleate. The results showed that as a response to the feedstock shifts three clusters describing microbes behaviours were formed. The dynamics and the functional role of the formed microbial clusters were unveiled, providing explanations for their abundance and behavior. Process monitoring indicated that the reactors responded immediately to lipid supplementation and they managed to stabilize their performance in a short period of time. The dominance of Candidatus Methanoculleus thermohydrogenotrophicum in the biogas reactors fed exclusively with cattle manure indicated that the predominant methanogenic pathway was hydrogenotrophic. Additionally, the abundance of this methanogen was further enhanced upon lipid supplementation and its growth was supported by syntrophic bacteria capable to metabolize fatty acids. However, with the shift back to the original feedstock (i.e. solely cattle manure), the microbial dynamicity significantly altered with a remarkable increment in the abundance of a propionate degrader affiliated to the order of Bacteroidales, which became the predominant microorganism of the consortium.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146296
JournalThe Science of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Microbial dynamics in biogas digesters treating lipid-rich substrates via genome-centric metagenomics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this