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Biodegradability of extracellular polymeric substances produced by aerobic granules


This study investigated the biodegradability of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) produced by aerobic granules. Aerobic granules were precultivated with synthetic wastewater in a lab-scale sequencing batch reactor. EPS were extracted from aerobic granules and were then fed as the sole carbon source to their own producers. Results showed that about 50% of EPS produced by aerobic granules could be utilized by their producers under aerobic starvation condition. The average biodegradation rate of the granule EPS in terms of chemical oxygen demand was five times slower than that of acetate, but 50 times faster than that of nonbiodegradable EPS produced by aerobic granules. The nonbiodegradable EPS was mainly found on the outer shell of aerobic granule. EPS produced by aerobic granules basically comprised two major components, i.e., biodegradable and nonbiodegradable EPS. The biodegradable EPS could serve as a useful energy source to sustain the growth of aerobic granules under starvation. This study provides experimental evidence that part of the EPS produced by aerobic granules would be biodegradable, but only nonbiodegradable EPS would play a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity of aerobic granule.

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Correspondence to Yu Liu.

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Wang, Z., Liu, Y. & Tay, J. Biodegradability of extracellular polymeric substances produced by aerobic granules. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 74, 462–466 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-006-0686-x

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  • Aerobic granule
  • Polysaccharides
  • Protein
  • Biodegradability