Revealing the bacterial community profiles during the degradation of acetone, propionic and hexanoic acids-components of wastewater from the Fischer-Tropsch process

  • Thapelo P. Malematja
  • Grace N IjomaEmail author
  • Ramganesh Selvarajan
  • Tonderayi Matambo
Original Article


The Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) process for production of fuels is entrenched in several countries’ approach to meeting energy demands. However, the clean water deficit associated with the down-stream processes has made it necessary to explore bioremediation methods to ameliorate the consequences of its use. In this study, a consortium of bacteria was utilized for determination of biodegradation and removal rates, based on reduction in chemical oxygen demand of a mixture of acetone, propionic acid and hexanoic acid (APH) (all components of F-T wastewater), at an organic loading of 5 and 9.53 g CODL−1. The individual degradation efficiencies of the F-T components were determined using a gas chromatograph. Further, the bacterial consortia responsible for the degradation of the mixture of APH were determined using metagenomics data derived from next-generation sequencing. The overall chemical oxygen demand removal was found to be 88.8% and 82.3% at organic loading of 5 and 9.53 g CODL−1, respectively. The optimal degradation efficiency of acetone, propionic acid and hexanoic acid over a period of 10 days was found to be 100%, 85% and 75.8%, respectively. The primary microbial communities presumed to be responsible for APH degradation by phyla classification across all samples were found to be Proteobacteria (55–92%), Actinobacteria (5–33%) and Firmicutes (0.08–9%). Overall, the study has demonstrated the importance of aerobic consortia interactions in the degradation of components of the F-T wastewater.


Biodegradation Fischer-Tropsch Culture-independent Wastewater Microbial-consortia Metagenomics 


Funding information

IDEAS (UNISA), Department of Science and technology (DST) in partnership with Tata Motors Africa (Student bursary), DST–Bioremediation Research Consortium grant number DST/CON 019/2017 and South Africa Synthetic Oil Liquid (SASOL) Technology University Collaboration provided financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thapelo P. Malematja
    • 1
  • Grace N Ijoma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ramganesh Selvarajan
    • 2
  • Tonderayi Matambo
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Development of Energy for African Sustainability (IDEAS)University of South AfricaFloridaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesUniversity of South AfricaFloridaSouth Africa

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