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Earthworms facilitate the stabilization of pelletized dewatered sludge through shaping microbial biomass and activity and community

Fu, Xiaoyong, Cui, Guangyu, Huang, Kui, Chen, Xuemin, Li, Fusheng, Zhang, Xiaoyu, Li, Fei
Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.5 pp. 4522-4530
bacteria, earthworms, fungi, microbial activity, microbial biomass, nitrates, organic matter, pathogens, sludge, vermicomposting
In this study, the effect of earthworms on microbial features during vermicomposting of pelletized dewatered sludge (PDS) was investigated through comparing two degradation systems with and without earthworm E isenia fetida involvement. After 60 days of experimentation, a relatively stable product with low organic matter and high nitrate and phosphorous was harvested when the earthworms were involved. During the process, earthworms could enhance microbial activity and biomass at the initial stage and thus accelerating the rapid decomposition of PDS. The end products of vermicomposting allowed the lower values of bacterial and eukaryotic densities comparison with those of no earthworm addition. In addition, the presence of earthworms modified the bacterial and fungal diversity, making the disappearances of some pathogens and specific decomposing bacteria of recalcitrant substrates in the vermicomposting process. This study evidences that earthworms can facilitate the stabilization of PDS through modifying microbial activity and number and community during vermicomposting.