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Microbiol Res. 2008;163(5):503-11. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Ability of DNA content and DGGE analysis to reflect the performance condition of an anaerobic biowaste fermenter.

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


Molecular-microbiological techniques have delivered insight into microbial populations present in anaerobic fermenters, although much information still remains to be elucidated. In this study, the ability of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to throw light on microbial community composition was investigated and latter data were compared with the gas production of a 750,000l anaerobic biogas fermenter. During 1 year, samples were taken from two different sites of the reactor and additionally from the substrate material. After DNA extraction and PCR with archaeal and bacterial primers, PCR products were run on denaturing gradient gels to compare band patterns. Using gel-imaging software (GelComparII), two major clusters could be identified. Dominant bands were excised from the gels, reamplified and sequenced. Most sequences were closely related to Lactobacilli and yet uncultured microorganisms. DNA content of all samples was significantly correlated with the gas production measured online. We concluded that PCR and subsequent DGGE are useful to monitor community shifts in anaerobic fermenter sludge. However, as these changes are not readily detectable via DGGE-pattern analysis, alternative factors influencing the fermenter functioning should be found and investigated. So far DNA-content measurement seems to be a good parameter to quickly determine anaerobic fermenter condition.

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