Microbial community dynamics during start-up of acidogenic anaerobic reactors

Wen Tso Liu, On Chim Chan, Herbert H.P. Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Start-up of two acidogenic reactors under mesophilic (37°C) and thermophilic (55°C) conditions was carried out with methanogenic granular sludge as an inoculum and dairy wastewater as feed. During these 71 days of the start-up period, microbial community dynamics in these two acidogenic reactors, as monitored by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and dot-blot hybridization with group-specific oligonucleotide probes, was correlated to reactor performance. Due to pH drop to 5.5, DGGE community fingerprints for domains Bacteria and Archaea populations showed significant shifts after 13 days of operation, and this change was accompanied with an increase in volatile fatty acid production, a decrease in methane formation, and rapid sludge disintegration. Dot-blot hybridization results further indicated that the decrease in methane production was related to the decrease in Archaea population in particular with methanogens from 34.1% of total 16S-rRNA in the seed sludge to 8% within the first 13 days, and to 2-5% at day 71. Among the methanogens monitored, the class Methanomicrobiales was the most abundant followed up by Methanobacteriales and Methanococcales. Due to an elevated temperature, the microbial community change was more significant and rapid in the thermophilic reactor than in the mesophilic reactor. Significant microbial population changes took place at the first 13 days for both reactors, but a longer period up to 71 days was required to establish a microbial community with a stable metabolic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3203-3210
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S-rRNA
  • Acidogenic
  • DGGE
  • Microbial community
  • Sludge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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