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Water Res. 2006 Apr;40(7):1377-88. Epub 2006 Mar 13.

Long term effects of salt on activity, population structure and floc characteristics in enriched bacterial cultures of nitrifiers.

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  • 1UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, P.O. Box 3015, 2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands.


The effect of salinity on the activity, the composition of nitrifiers and floc characteristics of nitrifying sludge was studied. Non-adapted and adapted (to 10g NaCl-Cl(-)/L for one year) enriched cultures of nitrifiers were tested in three sequencing batch reactors. Salt was increased gradually with 5 up to 40 g Cl(-)/L. No difference in steady state activity was observed between the adapted and non-adapted sludge. The activities of ammonia and nitrite oxidizers dropped 36% and 11%, respectively, at salt concentrations of 10 g Cl(-)/L. At 40 g Cl(-)/L inhibition reached 95% of salt free activity for ammonia and nitrite oxidizers in both adapted and non-adapted reactors. Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter sp. (fluorescent in situ hybridization) were the only nitrifiers present at high salt levels. Increased salt concentrations resulted in better settling characteristics of the nitrifying sludge. After 118 days the sludge was brought back to the initial conditions (0 g Cl(-)/L for non-adapted and 10 g Cl(-)/L for adapted). Despite the change in population composition similar kinetics as before the salt stress were observed.

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