An aerobic mixed-culture capable of degrading MTBE was used to seed a membrane bioreactor (MBR) system. Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was fed as the sole carbon source at a concentration of 5 mg/L spiked into dechlorinated Cincinnati municipal tap water. Nutrients were provided
and the pH was controlled. The culture was maintained for over 200 days of continuous operation with complete sludge retention. Biological removal of MTBE averaged above 99.97% over the six-month steady-state period with minimal TBA or TBF production. The microbial culture in the MBR
was monitored over several months at steady-state operation using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Sphingomonas, a well-known genus of xenobiotic degraders, were found to be dominant throughout steady operation of the MBR.
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