Link between microbial composition and carbon substrate-uptake preferences in a PHA-storing community

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The microbial community of a fermented molasses-fed sequencing batch reactor (SBR) operated under feast and famine conditions for production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) was identified and quantified through a 16 S rRNA gene clone library and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). The microbial enrichment was found to be composed of PHA-storing populations (84% of the microbial community), comprising members of the genera Azoarcus, Thauera and Paracoccus. The dominant PHA-storing populations ensured the high functional stability of the system (characterized by high PHA-storage efficiency, up to 60% PHA content). The fermented molasses contained primarily acetate, propionate, butyrate and valerate. The substrate preferences were determined by microautoradiography-FISH and differences in the substrate-uptake capabilities for the various probe-defined populations were found. The results showed that in the presence of multiple substrates, microbial populations specialized in different substrates were selected, thereby co-existing in the SBR by adapting to different niches. Azoarcus and Thauera, primarily consumed acetate and butyrate, respectively. Paracoccus consumed a broader range of substrates and had a higher cell-specific substrate uptake. The relative species composition and their substrate specialization were reflected in the substrate removal rates of different volatile fatty acids in the SBR reactor. The ISME Journal (2013)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalIsme Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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