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Characteristic microbial community of a dry thermophilic methanogenic digester: its long-term stability and change with feeding

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Thermophilic dry anaerobic digestion of sludge for cellulose methanization was acclimated at 53 °C for nearly 5 years using a waste paper-based medium. The stability of the microbial community structure and the microbial community responsible for the cellulose methanization were studied by 16S rRNA gene-based clone library analysis. The microbial community structure remained stable during the long-term acclimation period. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens dominated in methanogens and Methanothermobacter, Methanobacterium, Methanoculleus, and Methanosarcina were responsible for the methane production. Bacteria showed relatively high diversity and distributed mainly in the phyla Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Synergistetes. Ninety percent of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were affiliated with the phylum Firmicutes, indicating the crucial roles of this phylum in the digestion. Relatives of Clostridium stercorarium, Clostridium thermocellum, and Halocella cellulosilytica were dominant cellulose degraders. The acclimated stable sludge was used to treat garbage stillage discharged from a fuel ethanol production process, and the shift of microbial communities with the change of feed was analyzed. Both archaeal and bacterial communities had obviously changed: Methanoculleus spp. and Methanothermobacter spp. and the protein- and fatty acid-degrading bacteria became dominant. Accumulation of ammonia as well as volatile fatty acids led to the inhibition of microbial activity and finally resulted in the deterioration of methane fermentation of the garbage stillage.

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This work was supported by the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars, State Education Ministry.

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Correspondence to Xiao-Lei Wu or Kenji Kida.

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Tang, Y., Ji, P., Hayashi, J. et al. Characteristic microbial community of a dry thermophilic methanogenic digester: its long-term stability and change with feeding. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 91, 1447–1461 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-011-3479-9

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  • Thermophilic anaerobic digestion
  • Dry anaerobic digestion
  • Cellulose degradation
  • Garbage digestion
  • Microbial community