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Investigating the Fate of Activated Sludge Extracellular Proteins in Sludge Digestion Using Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis

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The fate of activated sludge extracellular proteins in sludge digestion was investigated using three different cation-associated extraction methods and sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Extraction methods used were the cation exchange resin (CER) method for extracting calcium (Ca 2+) and magnesium (Mg 2+), sulfide extraction for removing iron, and base treatment (pH 10.5) for dissolving aluminum. Extracellular polymeric substances extracted were then subjected to SDS-PAGE, and the resultant protein profiles were examined before and after sludge digestion. The SDS-PAGE results showed that three methods led to different SDS-PAGE profiles for both undigested and digested sludges. The results further revealed that CER-extracted proteins remained mainly undegraded in anaerobic digestion, but were degraded in aerobic digestion. While the fate of sulfide- and base-extracted proteins was not clear for aerobic digestion, their changes in anaerobic digestion were elucidated. Most sulfide-extracted proteins were removed by anaerobic digestion, while the increase in protein band intensity and diversity was observed for base-extracted proteins. These results suggest that activated sludge flocs contain different fractions of proteins that are distinguishable by their association with certain cations and that each fraction undergoes different fates in anaerobic and aerobic digestion. The proteins that were resistant to degradation and generated during anaerobic digestion were identified by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Protein identification results and their putative roles in activated sludge and anaerobic digestion are discussed in this study.
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Keywords: activated sludge; cations; digestion; extracellular polymeric substances; extraction; liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS); proteins; sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE)

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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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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