Moisture effects on gas-phase biofilter ammonia removal efficiency, nitrous oxide generation, and microbial communities

Liangcheng Yang, Angela D. Kent, Xinlei Wang, Ted L. Funk, Richard S. Gates, Yuanhui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We established a four-biofilter setup to examine the effects of moisture content (MC) on biofilter performance, including NH3 removal and N2O generation. We hypothesized that MC increase can improve NH3 removal, stimulate N2O generation and alter the composition and function of microbial communities. We found that NH3 removal efficiency was greatly improved when MC increased from 35 to 55%, but further increasing MC to 63% did not help much; while N2O concentration was low at 35-55% MC, but dramatically increased at 63% MC. Decreasing MC from 63 to 55% restored N2O concentration. Examination of amoA communities using T-RFLP and real-time qPCR showed that the composition and abundance of ammonia oxidizers were not significantly changed in a "moisture disturbance-disturbance relief" process in which MC was increased from 55 to 63% and then reduced to 55%. This observation supported the changes of NH3 removal efficiency. The composition of nosZ community was altered at 63% MC and then was recovered at 55% MC, which indicates resilience to moisture disturbance. The abundance of nosZ community was negatively correlated with moisture content in this process, and the decreased nosZ abundance at 63% MC explained the observation of increased N2O concentration at that condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-301
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Apr 30 2014


  • Ammonia
  • Ammonia oxidizer
  • Biofilter
  • Denitrifier
  • Moisture
  • Nitrous oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Engineering


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