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Nitrifying Genera in Activated Sludge May Influence Nitrification Rates

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Sequencing batch reactors were acclimated under aerobic and alternating anoxic/aerobic conditions. Greater nitrification rates in the alternating reactor were investigated by comparing environmental conditions. In the alternating reactor, pH, alkalinity, oxygen, and nitrite were higher at the onset of aerobic nitrification. Kinetic studies and batch tests, with biomass developed under aerobic and alternating conditions, revealed that these factors were insufficient to explain the divergent nitrification rates. Nitrifying genera vary in nitrification kinetics and sensitivity to environmental conditions. Nitrosospira and Nitrospira spp. could dominate in aerobic reactors, as they are adapted to low nitrite and oxygen conditions. Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter spp. are better competitors with abundant substrates and have higher nitrite tolerance, so they could excel under alternating conditions. This theoretical explanation is consistent with the kinetics and environmental conditions in these reactors and argues for using alternating treatment, because the harsh conditions select for populations with inherently faster nitrification rates.

Keywords: Nitrobacter; Nitrosomonas; Nitrosospira; Nitrospira; microbial ecology; nitrification; wastewater treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-05-01

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    Water Environment Research� (WER�) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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