Specific affinity and relative abundance of methanogens in acclimated anaerobic sludge treating low-strength wastewater

  • Liyuan Hou
  • Nick Griswold
  • Junyuan JiEmail author
  • Zhiqiang HuEmail author
Applied microbial and cell physiology


Kinetic parameters affecting effluent water quality including half saturation constant (Ks), maximum specific growth rate (μmax), and specific affinity (\( {a}_A^0 \), defined as μmax/Ks) were investigated using three types of anaerobic sludge (raw anaerobic digestion sludge referred to as unacclimated sludge, unacclimated sludge after endogenous decay, and sludge acclimated to low-strength wastewater in an anaerobic membrane bioreactor (AnMBR) for 360 days). Long-term acclimation to low-strength wastewater resulted in sludge with high specific affinity (1.6 × 10−3 L/mg COD/day for acclimated sludge compared to 4.1 × 10−4 L/mg COD/day for unacclimated sludge). The μmax values for unacclimated sludge and acclimated sludge were 0.08 and 0.07 day−1, respectively. The Ks values for unacclimated sludge and acclimated sludge were 194 ± 81 mg COD/L and 45 ± 13 mg COD/L, respectively. Although the Ks of unacclimated sludge after endogenous decay increased to 772 ± 74 mg COD/L, μmax increased to 0.35 day−1 as well, resulting in no statistically significant difference of \( {a}_A^0 \) between the two types of unacclimated sludge. Overall, \( {a}_A^0 \) is a better indicator than μmax or Ks alone for determining effluent water quality, as effluent substrate concentration is approximately inversely proportional to the specific affinity. 16S rRNA sequencing data analysis indicated a high abundance (85.8% of total archaea) of Methanosaeta in the microbial community after long-term acclimation. High \( {a}_A^0 \) associated with the enrichment of Methanosaeta appears to ensure successful anaerobic treatment of low-strength wastewater.


Affinity Methanogens Specific affinity Anaerobic wastewater treatment Acclimated sludge Methanosaeta 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2019_10149_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (556 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 555 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Marine Environment and Ecology, Ministry of EducationOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  3. 3.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina

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