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Water Res. 2007 Apr;41(8):1623-34. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Development of high-rate anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) biofilm reactors.

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Department of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8628, Japan.


To promptly establish anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) reactors, appropriate seeding sludge with high abundance and activity of anammox bacteria was selected by quantifying 16S rRNA gene copy numbers of anammox bacteria by real-time quantitative PCR (RTQ-PCR) and batch culture experiments. The selected sludge was then inoculated into up-flow fixed-bed biofilm column reactors with nonwoven fabric sheets as biomass carrier and the reactor performances were monitored over 1 year. The anammox reaction was observed within 50 days and a total nitrogen removal rate of 26.0 kg-Nm(-3)day(-1) was obtained after 247 days. To our knowledge, such a high rate has never been reported before. Hydraulic retention time (HRT) and influent NH(4)(+) to NO(2)(-) molar ratio could be important determinant factors for efficient nitrogen removal in this study. The higher nitrogen removal rate was obtained at the shorter HRT and higher influent NH(4)(+)/NO(2)(-) molar ratio. After anammox reactors were fully developed, the community structure, spatial organization and in situ activity of the anammox biofilms were analyzed by the combined use of a full-cycle of 16S rRNA approach and microelectrodes. In situ hybridization results revealed that the probe Amx820-hybridized anaerobic anammox bacteria were distributed throughout the biofilm (accounting for more than 70% of total bacteria). They were associated with Nitrosomonas-like aerobic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AAOB) in the surface biofilm. The anammox bacteria present in this study were distantly related to the Candidatus Brocadia anammoxidans with the sequence similarity of 95%. Microelectrode measurements showed that a high in situ anammox activity (i.e., simultaneous consumption of NH(4)(+) and NO(2)(-)) of 4.45 g-N of (NH(4)(+)+NO(2)(-))m(-2)day(-1) was detected in the upper 800 microm of the biofilm, which was consistent with the spatial distribution of anammox bacteria.

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