Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Impact of increasing NaCl concentrations on the performance and community composition of two anaerobic reactors


The anaerobic treatment of saline effluents using halophilic and halotolerant microbial consortia is of major interest. Inhibition of anaerobic digestion is known to occur at high salt content. However, it seems that the suitable adaptation of an anaerobic sludge makes possible the treatment of saline wastewater. In this study, a non-saline anaerobic sludge was inoculated in two anaerobic batch reactors operating with a different substrate (distillery vinasse and ethanol) and subjected to increasing NaCl concentrations. The performance of the digesters appeared to be highly dependent on the nature of the substrate, and a similar level of inhibition (i.e. around 90% of the specific loading rate and specific methanogenic activity) was stated at 10 g l−1 of NaCl with distillery vinasse and 60 g l−1 of NaCl with ethanol. The characterization of the microflora and its adaptation to increasing NaCl conditions were also investigated using molecular tools based on the analysis of genomic 16S rDNA. The microbial communities revealed a high diversity that could be maintained in both reactors despite the increase in NaCl concentrations.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. AFNOR (1997) Qualité de l’eau, recueil des normes françaises. AFNOR, Paris

  2. Aspé E, Martí MC, Jara A, Roeckel M (2001) Ammonia inhibition in the anaerobic treatment of fishery effluents. Water Environ Res 73:154–164

  3. Boardman GD, Tisinger JL, Gallagher DL (1995) Treatment of clam processing wastewaters by means of upflow anaerobic sludge blanket technology. Water Res 29:1483–1490

  4. Feijoo G, Soto M, Mendez R, Lema JM (1995) Sodium inhibition in the anaerobic digestion process: antagonism and adaptation phenomena. Enzyme Microb Technol 17:180–188

  5. Gangagni Rao A, Venkata Naidu G, Krishna Prasad K, Chandrasekhar Rao N, Venkata Mohan S, Jetty A, Sarma PN (2005) Anaerobic treatment of wastewater with high suspended solids from a bulk drug industry using fixed film reactor (AFFR). Bioresour Technol 96:87–93

  6. Gebauer R (2004) Mesophilic anaerobic treatment of sludge from saline fish farm effluents with biogas production. Bioresour Technol 93:155–167

  7. Godon JJ, Zumstein E, Dabert P, Habouzit F, Moletta R (1997a) Microbial 16S rDNA diversity in an anaerobic digester. Water Sci Technol 36:49–55

  8. Godon JJ, Zumstein E, Dabert P, Habouzit F, Moletta R (1997b) Molecular microbial diversity of an anaerobic digestor as determined by small-subunit rDNA sequence analysis. Appl Environ Microbiol 63:2802–2813

  9. Gourdon R, Comel C, Vermande P, Veron J (1989) Kinetics of acetate, propionate and butyrate removal in the treatment of a semi-synthetic landfill leachate on anaerobic filter. Biotechnol Bioeng 33:1167–1181

  10. Guerrero L, Omil F, Méndez R, Lema JM (1997) Treatment of saline wastewaters from fish meal factories in an anaerobic filter under extreme ammonia concentrations. Bioresour Technol 61:69–78

  11. Habets LHA, Engelaar AJHH, Groeneveld N (1997) Anaerobic treatment of inuline effluent in an internal circulation reactor. Water Sci Technol 35:189–197

  12. Henze M, Harremoës P (1983) Anaerobic treatment of wastewaters in fixed film reactors—A literature review. Water Sci Technol 15:1–101

  13. Kargi F, Dincer AR (1996) Effect of salt concentration on biological treatment of saline wastewater by fed-batch operation. Enzyme Microb Technol 19:529–537

  14. Kugelman IJ, McCarty PL (1965) Cation toxicity and stimulation in anaerobic waste treatment. I. Slug feed studies. J Water Pollut Control Fed 37:97–116

  15. Lefebvre O, Habouzit F, Bru V, Delgenes JP, Godon JJ, Moletta R (2004) Treatment of hypersaline industrial wastewater by a microbial consortium in a sequencing batch reactor. Environ Technol 25:543–553

  16. Lefebvre O, Vasudevan N, Torrijos M, Thanasekaran K, Moletta R (2005) Halophilic biological treatment of tannery soak liquor in a sequencing batch reactor. Water Res 39:1471–1480

  17. Lefebvre O, Vasudevan N, Torrijos M, Thanasekaran K, Moletta R (2006a) Anaerobic digestion of tannery soak liquor with an aerobic post-treatment. Water Res 40:1492–1500

  18. Lefebvre O, Vasudevan N, Thanasekaran K, Moletta R, Godon JJ (2006b) Microbial diversity in hypersaline wastewater: the example of tanneries. Extremophiles 10:505–513

  19. Moon BH, Seo GT, Lee TS, Kim SS, Yoon CH (2003) Effects of salt concentration on floc characteristics and pollutants removal efficiencies in treatment of seafood wastewater by SBR. Water Sci Technol 47:65–70

  20. Mosquera-Corral A, Sanchez M, Campos JL, Mendez R, Lema JM (2001) Simultaneous methanogenesis and denitrification of pretreated effluents from a fish canning industry. Water Res 35:411–418

  21. Ng HY, Ong S, Ng WJ (2005) Effects of sodium chloride on the performance of a sequencing batch reactor. J Environ Eng ASCE 131:1557–1564

  22. Omil F, Mendez R, Lema JM (1995) Anaerobic treatment of saline wastewaters under high sulphide and ammonia content. Bioresour Technol 54:269–278

  23. Rinzema A, Lier Vv, Lettinga G (1988) Sodium inhibition of acetoclastic methanogens in granular sludge from a UASB reactor. Enzyme Microb Technol 10:24–32

  24. Rovirosa N, Sanchez E, Cruz M, Veiga MC, Borja R (2004) Coliform concentration reduction and related performance evaluation of a down-flow anaerobic fixed bed reactor treating low-strength saline wastewater. Bioresour Technol 94:119–127

  25. Ruíz C, Torrijos M, Sousbie P, Lebrato Martínez J, Moletta R, Delgenès JP (2002) Treatment of winery wastewater by an anaerobic sequencing batch reactor. Water Sci Technol 45:219–224

  26. Sawyer CN, McCarty PL (1967) Chemistry for sanitary engineers. McGraw-Hill, New York

  27. Uygur A, Kargi F (2004) Salt inhibition on biological nutrient removal from saline wastewater in a sequencing batch reactor. Enzyme Microb Technol 34:313–318

  28. Vidal G, Aspé E, Martí MC, Roeckel M, Vidal G (1997) Treatment of recycled wastewaters from fishmeal factory by an anaerobic filter. Biotechnol Lett 19:117–121

  29. Vlyssides AG, Barampouti EM, Mai S (2005) Wastewater characteristics from Greek wineries and distilleries. Water Sci Technol 51:53–60

  30. Woolard CR, Irvine RL (1995) Treatment of hypersaline wastewater in the sequencing batch reactor. Water Res 29:1159–1168

  31. Zumstein E, Moletta R, Godon JJ (2000) Examination of two years of community dynamics in an anaerobic bioreactor using fluorescence polymerase chain reaction (PCR) single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis. Environ Microbiol 2:69–78

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to O. Lefebvre.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lefebvre, O., Quentin, S., Torrijos, M. et al. Impact of increasing NaCl concentrations on the performance and community composition of two anaerobic reactors. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 75, 61–69 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-006-0799-2

Download citation


  • Anaerobic SBR
  • Halotolerance
  • Microbial community
  • 16S ribosomal RNA