Microbial Stratification Affects Conversions of Nitrogen and Methane in Biofilms Coupling Anammox and n-DAMO Processes

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4608-4618
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
Online published24 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


A methane-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) has a suitable configuration to incorporate anammox and nitrite/nitrate-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (n-DAMO) processes because of its high gas-transfer efficiency and efficient biomass retention. In this study, the spatial distribution of microorganisms along with the biofilm depth in methane-based MBfRs was experimentally revealed, showing the dominance of anammox bacteria, n-DAMO bacteria, and n-DAMO archaea in the outer layer, middle layer, and inner layer of biofilms, respectively. The long-term and short-term experimental investigations in conjunction with mathematical modeling collectively revealed that microorganisms living in the outer layer of biofilms tend to use substrates from wastewater, while microorganisms inhabiting the inner layer of biofilms tend to use substrates originating from biofilm substratum. Specifically, anammox bacteria dominating the biofilm surface preferentially removed the nitrite provided from wastewater, while n-DAMO bacteria mostly utilized the nitrite generated from n-DAMO archaea as these two methane-related populations spatially clustered together inside the biofilm. Likewise, the methane supplied from the membrane was mostly consumed by n-DAMO archaea, while the dissolved methane in wastewater would be primarily utilized by n-DAMO bacteria. This study offers novel insights into the impacts of microbial stratification in biofilm systems, not only expanding the fundamental understanding of biofilms and microbial interactions therein but also providing a rationale for the potential applications of methane-based MBfRs in sewage treatment. © 2023 American Chemical Society.

Research Area(s)

  • anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM), anammox, biofilm modeling, biofilm stratification, membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), nitrite/nitrate-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (n-DAMO), nitrogen removal

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