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Water Res. 2013 Sep 15;47(14):5326-37. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.06.013. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

Long-term impact of anaerobic reaction time on the performance and granular characteristics of granular denitrifying biological phosphorus removal systems.

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State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resources Reuse, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tongji University, Siping Road, Shanghai 200092, PR China.


Removal of nitrogen and phosphorus (P) from wastewater is successfully and widely practiced in systems employing both granular sludge technology and enhanced biological P removal (EBPR) processes; however, the key parameter, anaerobic reaction time (AnRT), has not been thoroughly investigated. Successful EBPR is highly dependent on an appropriate AnRT, which induces carbon and polyphosphate metabolism by phosphorus accumulating organisms (PAOs). Therefore, the long-term impact of AnRT on denitrifying P removal performance and granular characteristics was investigated in three identical granular sludge sequencing batch reactors with AnRTs of 90 (R1), 120 (R2) and 150 min (R3). The microbial community structures and anaerobic stoichiometric parameters related to various AnRTs were monitored over time. Free nitrite acid (FNA) accumulation (e.g., 0.0008-0.0016 mg HNO2-N/L) occurred frequently owing to incomplete denitrification in the adaptation period, especially in R3, which influenced the anaerobic/anoxic intracellular intermediate metabolites and activities of intracellular enzymes negatively, resulting in lower levels of poly-P and reduced activity of polyphosphate kinase. As a result, the Accumulibacter-PAOs population decreased from 51 ± 2.5% to 43 ± 2.1% when AnRT was extended from 90 to 150 min, leading to decreased denitrifying P removal performance. Additionally, frequent exposure of microorganisms to the FNA accumulation and anaerobic endogenous conditions in excess AnRT cases (e.g., 150 min) stimulated increased extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) production by microorganisms, resulting in enhanced granular formation and larger granules (size of 0.6-1.2 mm), but decreasing anaerobic PHA synthesis and glycogen hydrolysis. Phosphorus removal capacity was mediated to some extent by EPS adsorption in granular sludge systems that possessed more EPS, longer AnRT and relatively higher GAOs.


Anaerobic reaction time; Denitrifying phosphate-accumulating organisms; Denitrifying phosphorus removal; Extracellular polymeric substances; Granules; Microbial community; Phosphorus fractions

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