The research objective was to assess dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) bioavailability in wastewater effluents from a pilot-scale nitrification plant and a laboratory-scale total nitrogen (TN) removal plant. The DON bioavailability was assessed using a 14-day bioassay protocol containing
bacterial and algal inocula. Nitrogen species, dissolved organic carbon, chlorophyll a, and biomass (as total suspended solids and culturable cell counts) concentrations were measured to assess DON bioavailability. The results showed an increase in algal chlorophyll a concentration,
with a concurrent increase in algal biomass over time; increased bacterial counts and a decrease in DON concentration over time; and increased carbon-to-nitrogen ratio at the end of the 14-day bioassay, indicating effluent DON bioavailability to algae and bacteria. Approximately 18 to 61%
of the initial DON in low-total-nitrogen wastewater effluent (TN = 4 to 5 mg/L) sample was bioavailable. The results show that bacteria and algae uptake and release DON during their growth.
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