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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Dec;64(12):4877-82.

Assessment of changes in microbial community structure during operation of an ammonia biofilter with molecular tools.

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Department of Environmental Sciences and Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903-0231, USA.
Rutgers U, New Brunswick, NJ


Biofiltration has been used for two decades to remove odors and various volatile organic and inorganic compounds in contaminated off-gas streams. Although biofiltration is widely practiced, there have been few studies of the bacteria responsible for the removal of air contaminants in biofilters. In this study, molecular techniques were used to identify bacteria in a laboratory-scale ammonia biofilter. Both 16S rRNA and ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes were used to characterize the heterotrophic and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria collected from the biofilter during a 102-day experiment. The overall diversity of the heterotrophic microbial population appeared to decrease by 38% at the end of the experiment. The community structure of the heterotrophic population also shifted from predominantly members of two subdivisions of the Proteobacteria (the beta and gamma subdivisions) to members of one subdivision (the gamma subdivision). An overall decrease in the diversity of ammonia monooxygenase genes was not observed. However, a shift from groups dominated by organisms containing Nitrosomonas-like and Nitrosospira-like amoA genes to groups dominated by organisms containing only Nitrosospira-like amoA genes was observed. In addition, a new amoA gene was discovered. This new gene is the first freshwater amoA gene that is closely affiliated with Nitrosococcus oceanus and the particulate methane monooxygenase gene from the methane oxidizers belonging to the gamma subdivision of the Proteobacteria.

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