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Biotechnol Bioeng. 1993 Aug 20;42(5):643-56.

Competition between two microbial populations in a sequencing fed-batch reactor: theory, experimental verification, and implications for waste treatment applications.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, and Environmental Science, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA.


Competition between two microbial populations for a single pollutant (phenol) was studied in a sequencing fed-batch reactor (SFBR). A mathematical model describing this system was developed and tested experimentally. It is based on specific growth rate expressions revealed from pure culture batch experiments. The species employed were Pseudomonas putida (ATCC 17514) and Pseudomonas resinovorans (ATCC 14235). It was found that both species biodegrade phenol following inhibitory kinetics which can be described by Andrews' expression. The model predicts that the dynamics of a SFBR, and the kinetics of biodegradation, result in a complex set of operating regimes in which neither species, only one species, or both species can survive at steady cycle. The model also predicts the existence of multiple outcomes, achievable from different start-up conditions, in some domains of the operating parameter space. Experimental results confirmed the model predictions. There was excellent agreement between predicted and measured concentrations of phenol, total biomass, and the biomass of each individual species. This study shows how serious discrepancies can arise in scale-up of biodegradation data if population dynamics are not taken into account. It also further confirms experimentally the theory of microbial competition in periodically forced bioreactors.


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