Impact of organic carbon on the biodegradation of estrone in mixed culture systems

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Abstract

The effects of organic carbon concentrations and loading on the degradation of estrone (E1) were examined under various conditions in batch reactors and membrane-coupled bioreactors (MBRs). Experiments examined effects on individual microorganisms (substrate competition and growth) and on the whole community (selection). Substrate competition with organic carbon (competitive inhibition and catabolic repression) was not a factor in E1 degradation (P = 0.19 and 0.29 for two different analyses). Conversely, addition of organic carbon increased E1 degradation rates, attributable to biomass growth in feast-famine reactors over a five-day period (P = 0.016). Subsequently, however, community dynamics controlled E1 degradation rates, with other organisms outcompeting E1 degraders. More moderate but sustained increases in E1 degradation rates were observed under starvation conditions. Low influent organic carbon strength was detrimental to E1 degradation in MBRs, where organic carbon concentration and loading were decoupled (P = 0.018). These results point to the importance of multiple substrate utilizers in E1 degradation. They also suggest that while initial growth of biomass depends on the presence of sufficient organic carbon, further enrichment under starvation conditions may improve E1 degradation capability via the growth and/or stimulation of multiple substrate utilizers rather than heterotrophs characterized by an r-strategist growth regime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12359-12365
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume47
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 5 2013

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