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Title: Effect of sludge retention time on microbial succession and assembly in thermal hydrolysis pretreated sludge digesters: deterministic versus stochastic processes
Authors: Zhang, Liang 
Guo, Kun
Wang, Li
Xu, Ronghua
Lu, Dan
Zhou, Yan
Keywords: Engineering::Environmental engineering
Issue Date: 2022
Source: Zhang, L., Guo, K., Wang, L., Xu, R., Lu, D. & Zhou, Y. (2022). Effect of sludge retention time on microbial succession and assembly in thermal hydrolysis pretreated sludge digesters: deterministic versus stochastic processes. Water Research, 209, 117900-.
Journal: Water Research
Abstract: Thermal hydrolysis process (THP) assisted anaerobic digestion (AD) has been demonstrated to be an efficient approach to improve biogas production and solids reduction. Given the faster reaction kinetics in the THP-AD system, reduction of sludge retention time (SRT) is possible. However, a comprehensive understanding of the effects of sludge retention time (SRT) on microbial dynamics and community assemblages is still lacking in THP-AD systems. Thus, twelve THP-AD reactors were operated at different SRTs (10-30 d) to fulfill the knowledge gap. Results showed that, although all the bioreactors displayed good performance, shorter SRT reactors (SRT 10 d) took a longer time to reach the stable state. The total biogas production at SRT of 10 d was lower than that at other longer SRTs, attributing to the limited hydrolytic/fermentative capacities of AD microbiomes. Different SRTs resulted in distinct succession patterns of AD microbiomes. THP sludge reduced the microbial diversity in all the bioreactors over time, but longer SRTs maintained higher biodiversity. Null model analysis suggested that THP-AD microbial community assembly was predominately driven by deterministic selection at the tested SRT range, but stochasticity increased with elevated SRTs, likely attributing to the immigrants from the feedstock. Phylogenetic molecular ecological networks (pMENs) analysis revealed more stable network structures at longer SRTs, evidenced by the lower modularity, shorter harmonic geodesic distance, and higher connectivity. The potential keystone taxa under varied SRTs were identified, some of which were hydrolytic/fermentative bacteria (e.g., Peptostreptococcus, Lutispora, Synergistaceae), suggesting that these species related to organic hydrolysis/fermentation even with low-abundance could still play pivotal ecological roles in maintaining the THP-AD microbial community structure and functions. Collectively, this study provides comprehensive and in-depth insights into the mechanisms underlying community assembly in THP-AD reactors, which could aid in diagnosing system stability.
ISSN: 0043-1354
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117900
Schools: School of Civil and Environmental Engineering 
Research Centres: Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute 
Advanced Environmental Biotechnology Centre (AEBC) 
Rights: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
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