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A metabolomic view of how low nitrogen strength favors anammox biomass yield and nitrogen removal capability

Guo, Yongzhao, Zhao, Yunpeng, Zhu, Tingting, Li, Jianqi, Feng, Ying, Zhao, Huazhang, Liu, Sitong
Water research 2018 v.143 pp. 387-398
amino acids, anaerobic ammonium oxidation, biomass production, cell structures, energy, lipids, membrane bioreactors, metabolomics, nitrites, nitrogen, nucleic acids, protein synthesis, public services and goods, wastewater treatment
The low yield of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) biomass has attracted great attention because of its difficulty to be abundantly enriched. Patterns of substrate supply greatly influence microbial metabolism and behavior. The present study proposed that low nitrogen strength was beneficial to anammox biomass yield and nitrogen removal when comparing a membrane bioreactor (MBR) operated at low nitrogen strength with short hydraulic retention time (HRT) (R-low; influent: fixed at 100 mg-N L⁻¹) and one operated at high nitrogen strength with long HRT (R-stepwise; influent: 100-700 mg-N L⁻¹). Different nitrite concentrations in the two MBRs would indicate discrepant environments, and inevitably resulted in the discrepant microbial responses for anammox community. In particular, we found that at low nitrogen strength, increased activities of purine and pyrimidine metabolism pathways provided more abundant nucleic acids for bacterial proliferation. More active reaction of lipid and protein synthesis favored the synthesis of cellular structure. Importantly, the metabolism of cheaper amino acids was more active under low nitrogen strength, which was coupled with higher metabolic flux and potentially more active exchange of costly amino acids as public goods. In this way, more energy could be saved and applied to biomass yield. Higher active bacterial diversity and more positive interactions among bacterial species in R-low further favored biomass yield and nitrogen removal. The present study highlighted the significant effect of substrate supply patterns on anammox, which is meaningful to overcome the current bottleneck of deficient anammox biomass for application in wastewater treatment.