Distribution and microbial community structure analysis of a single-stage partial nitritation/anammox granular sludge bioreactor operating at low temperature
In the last decade, autotrophic nitrogen removal technologies based on anammox metabolism have become state of the art in urban and industrial wastewater treatment systems, due to their advantages over traditional nitrogen removal processes. However, their application is currently limited to the treatment of warm wastewater (25–40°C) mainly due to the low growth rate of the anammox bacteria. The extension of the application field to wastewater characterized by lower temperatures (8–20°C), such as those typical for municipal sewage, allows the design of treatment systems with a net energy production. In this study, the distribution and bacterial community structure of a lab-scale single-stage partial nitritation/anammox (PN/A) granular sludge bioreactor operating at low temperatures was analysed using next-generation sequencing techniques. The presence of ammonium-oxidizing bacteria and anammox bacteria was found, but the appearance of other bacterial species shows a complex microbial ecosystem. Evaluation of ecological roles of representative species inside the single-stage PN/A bioreactor was accomplished. Results obtained will be helpful for the future design and operation of PN/A systems performing at low temperatures.