High resolution functional analysis and community structure of photogranules

Lukas M. Trebuch* (Corresponding author), Olivia M. Bourceau, Stijn M. F. Vaessen, Thomas R. Neu, Marcel Janssen, Dirk de Beer, Louise E. M. Vet, René H. Wijffels, Tânia V. Fernandes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Photogranules are spherical aggregates formed of complex phototrophic ecosystems with potential for “aeration-free” wastewater treatment. Photogranules from a sequencing batch reactor were investigated by fluorescence microscopy, 16S/18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, microsensors, and stable- and radioisotope incubations to determine the granules’ composition, nutrient distribution, and light, carbon, and nitrogen budgets. The photogranules were biologically and chemically stratified, with filamentous cyanobacteria arranged in discrete layers and forming a scaffold to which other organisms were attached. Oxygen, nitrate, and light gradients were also detectable. Photosynthetic activity and nitrification were both predominantly restricted to the outer 500 µm, but while photosynthesis was relatively insensitive to the oxygen and nutrient (ammonium, phosphate, acetate) concentrations tested, nitrification was highly sensitive. Oxygen was cycled internally, with oxygen produced through photosynthesis rapidly consumed by aerobic respiration and nitrification. Oxygen production and consumption were well balanced. Similarly, nitrogen was cycled through paired nitrification and denitrification, and carbon was exchanged through photosynthesis and respiration. Our findings highlight that photogranules are complete, complex ecosystems with multiple linked nutrient cycles and will aid engineering decisions in photogranular wastewater treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalISME Journal
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2023

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