Comparable Nutrient Uptake across Diel Cycles by Three Distinct Phototrophic Communities

Anna C. Fedders, Jennifer L. Debellis, Ian M. Bradley, Maria C. Sevillano-Rivera, Ameet J. Pinto, Jeremy S. Guest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The capacity of microalgae to advance the limit of technology of nutrient recovery and accumulate storage carbon make them promising candidates for wastewater treatment. However, the extent to which these capabilities are influenced by microbial community composition remains poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, 3 mixed phototrophic communities sourced from distinct latitudes within the continental United States (28° N, Tampa, FL; 36° N, Durham, NC; and 40° N, Urbana, IL) were operated in sequencing batch reactors (8 day solids residence time, SRT) subjected to identical diel light cycles with media addition at the start of the nighttime period. Despite persistent differences in community structure as determined via 18S rRNA (V4 and V8-V9 hypervariable regions) and 16S rRNA (V1-V3) gene amplicon sequencing, reactors achieved similar and stable nutrient recovery after 2 months (8 SRTs) of operation. Intrinsic carbohydrate and lipid storage capacity and maximum specific carbon storage rates differed significantly across communities despite consistent levels of observed carbon storage across reactors. This work supports the assertion that distinct algal communities cultivated under a common selective environment can achieve consistent performance while maintaining independent community structures and intrinsic carbon storage capabilities, providing further motivation for the development of engineered phototrophic processes for wastewater management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-400
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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