biofilm; nitrification; starvation; recovery; TRFLP

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Long-term starvation and subsequent recovery of nitrifiers in aerated submerged fixed-bed biofilm reactors, Elawwad, Abdelsalam, Koeser Heinz, Sandner Hendrik, and Kappelmeyer Uwe , Environmental Technology, Volume 34, Issue 8, p.945-959, (2013) Abstractelawwad_et_al._2013Website

The effectiveness of three operational strategies for maintaining nitrifiers in bench-scale, aerated, submerged fixed-bed biofilm reactors (SFBBRs) during long-term starvation at 20°C were evaluated. The operational strategies were characterized by the resulting oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) in the SFBBRs. The activity rates of the nitrifiers were measured and the activity decay was expressed by half-life times. It was found that anoxic and alternating anoxic/aerobic conditions were the best ways to preserve ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) during long starvation periods and resulted in half-life times of up to 34 and 28 days, respectively. Extended anaerobic conditions caused the half-life for AOB to decrease to 21 days. In comparison, the activity decay of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) tended to be slightly faster. The activity of AOB biofilms that were kept for 97 days under anoxic conditions could be completely recovered in less than one week, while over 4 weeks was needed for AOB kept under anaerobic conditions. NOB were more sensitive to starvation and required longer recovery periods than AOB. For complete recovery, NOB needed approximately 7 weeks, regardless of the starvation conditions applied. Using the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique, Nitrospira was detected as the dominant NOB genus. Among the AOB, the terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) technique showed that during starvation and recovery periods, the relative frequency of species shifted to Nitrosomonas europaea/eutropha, regardless of the starvation condition. The consequences of these findings for the operation of SFBBRs under low-load and starvation conditions are discussed.