Purple phototrophic bacteria are outcompeted by aerobic heterotrophs in the presence of oxygen - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Water Research Year : 2021

Purple phototrophic bacteria are outcompeted by aerobic heterotrophs in the presence of oxygen


There is an ongoing debate around the effect of microaerobic/aerobic conditions on the wastewater treatment performance and stability of enriched purple phototrophic bacteria (PPB) cultures. It is well known that oxygen-induced oxidative conditions inhibit the synthesis of light harvesting complexes, required for photoheterotrophy. However, in applied research, several publications have reported efficient wastewater treatment at high dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. This study evaluated the impact of different DO concentrations (0-0.25 mg •L −1 , 0-0.5 mg •L −1 and 0-4.5 mg •L −1) on the COD, nitrogen and phosphorus removal performances, the biomass yields, and the final microbial communities of PPB-enriched cultures, treating real wastewaters (domestic and poultry processing wastewater). The results show that the presence of oxygen suppressed photoheterotrophic growth, which led to a complete pigment and colour loss in a matter of 20-30 h after starting the batch. Under aerobic conditions, chemoheterotrophy was the dominant catabolic pathway, with wastewater treatment performances similar to those achieved in common aerobic reactors, rather than those corresponding to phototrophic systems (i.e. considerable total COD decrease (45-57% aerobically vs. ± 10% anaerobically). This includes faster consumption of COD and nutrients, lower nutrient removal efficiencies (50-58% vs. 72-99% for NH 4 +-N), lower COD:N:P substrate ratios (100:4.5-5.0:0.4-0.8 vs. 100:6.7-12:0.9-1.2), and lower apparent biomass yields (0.15-0.31 vs. 0.8-1.2 g COD biomass ·g COD removed −1 )). Thesuppressionof photoheterotrophy inevitably resulted in a reduction of the relative PPB abundances in all the aerated tests (below 20% at the end of the tests), as PPB lost their main competitive advantage against competing aerobic heterotrophic microbes. This was explained by the lower aerobic PPB growth rates (2.4 d −1 at 35 °C) when compared to common growth rates for aerobic heterotrophs (6.0 d −1 at 20 °C). Therefore, PPB effectively outcompete other microbes under illuminated- anaerobic conditions, but not under aerobic or even micro-aerobic conditions, as shown by continuously aerated tests controlled at undetectable DO levels. While their aerobic heterotrophic capabilities provide some resilience, at non-sterile conditions PPB cannot dominate when growing chemoheterotrophically, and will be outcompeted.
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hal-03777870 , version 1 (13-08-2023)





Gabriel Capson-Tojo, Shengli Lin, Damien J Batstone, Tim Hülsen. Purple phototrophic bacteria are outcompeted by aerobic heterotrophs in the presence of oxygen. Water Research, 2021, 194, pp.116941. ⟨10.1016/j.watres.2021.116941⟩. ⟨hal-03777870⟩


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