Sulfur-driven autotrophic denitrification: diversity, biochemistry, and engineering applications
The role of the nitrate-reducing, sulfide-oxidising bacteria (NR-SOB) in the nitrate-mediated inhibition of sulfide net production by anaerobic wastewater biofilms was analyzed in two experimental bioreactors, continuously fed with the primary effluent of a wastewater treatment plant, one used as control (BRC) and the other one supplemented with nitrate (BRN). This study integrated information from H(2)S and pH microelectrodes, RNA-based molecular techniques, and the time course of biofilm growth and bioreactors water phase. Biofilms were a net source of sulfide for the water phase (2.01 micromol S(2-)(tot)m(-2)s(-1)) in the absence of nitrate dosing. Nitrate addition effectively led to the cessation of sulfide release from biofilms despite which a low rate of net sulfate reduction activity (0.26 micromol S(2-)(tot)m(-2)s(-1)) persisted at a deep layer within the biofilm. Indigenous NR-SOB including Thiomicrospira denitrificans, Arcobacter sp., and Thiobacillus denitrificans were stimulated by nitrate addition resulting in the elimination of most sulfide from the biofilms. Active sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) represented comparable fractions of total metabolically active bacteria in the libraries obtained from BRN and BRC. However, we detected changes in the taxonomic composition of the SRB community suggesting its adaptation to a higher level of NR-SOB activity in the presence of nitrate.