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Waste Manag Res. 2008 Apr;26(2):173-87.

Bacterial community patterns and thermal analyses of composts of various origins.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstr. 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


During composting, the degradation of organic waste is accompanied and driven by a succession of microbial populations exhibiting a broad range of functional capabilities. Detailed inventories of the microbial communities in mature compost, however, are not available. Mature composts, originating from biowaste as well as sewage sludge and anaerobic sludge, were studied by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis-fingerprints after polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the 16S rRNA genes using three different universal primer pairs, as well as by differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetry. The composts of different origin had different bacterial communities. The influence of different 16S rDNA primer sets on the same batches of compost DNA was evaluated. The clearest separation of different compost types was obtained by using the PCR primer pair 338f + 518r which is suggested for future applications. Communities from the different biowaste compost samples clustered together and could be separated from sewage sludge communities indicating the establishment of different microbial consortia. A similar differentiation of composts was found with the thermogavimetric analyses. It may thus be concluded that the resulting humus quality is closely linked to the microbial communities involved.

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