N 2 ‐fixation can sustain wastewater treatment performance of photogranules under nitrogen limiting conditions

Lukas M. Trebuch* (Corresponding author), Kobe Schoofs, Stijn M. F. Vaessen, Thomas R. Neu, Marcel Janssen, René H. Wijffels, Louise E. M. Vet, Tânia V. Fernandes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Wastewater characteristics can vary significantly, and in some municipal wastewaters the N:P ratio is as low as 5 resulting in nitrogen-limiting conditions. In this study, the microbial community, function, and morphology of photogranules under nitrogen-replete (N+) and limiting (N−) conditions was assessed in sequencing batch reactors. Photogranules under N− condition were nitrogen deprived 2/3 of a batch cycle duration. Surprisingly, this nitrogen limitation had no adverse effect on biomass productivity. Moreover, phosphorus and chemical oxygen demand removal were similar to their removal under N+ conditions. Although performance was similar, the difference in granule morphology was obvious. While N+ photogranules were dense and structurally confined, N− photogranules showed loose structures with occasional voids. Microbial community analysis revealed high abundance of cyanobacteria capable of N2-fixation. These were higher at N− (38%) than N+ (29%) treatments, showing that photogranules could adjust and maintain treatment performance and high biomass productivity by means of N2-fixation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Feb 2023


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