Metatranscriptomic and metagenomic description of the bacterial nitrogen metabolism in waste water wet oxidation effluents

Anaerobic digestion is a common method for reducing the amount of sludge solids in used waters and enabling biogas production. The wet oxidation process (WOX) improves anaerobic digestion by converting carbon into methane through oxidation of organic compounds. WOX produces effluents rich in ammonia, which must be removed to maintain the activity of methanogens. Ammonia removal from WOX could be biologically operated by aerobic granules. To this end, granulation experiments were conducted in 2 bioreactors containing an activated sludge (AS). For the first time, the dynamics of the microbial community structure and the expression levels of 7 enzymes of the nitrogen metabolism in such active microbial communities were followed in regard to time by metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. It was shown that bacterial communities adapt to the wet oxidation effluent by increasing the expression level of the nitrogen metabolism, suggesting that these biological activities could be a less costly alternative for the elimination of ammonia, resulting in a reduction of the use of chemicals and energy consumption in sewage plants. This study reached a strong sequencing depth (from 4.4 to 7.6 Gb) and enlightened a yet unknown diversity of the microorganisms involved in the nitrogen pathway. Moreover, this approach revealed the abundance and expression levels of specialised enzymes involved in nitrification, denitrification, ammonification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) and nitrogen fixation processes in AS.

Authors: Crovadore J, Soljan V, Calmin G, Chablais R, Cochard B, Lefort F. ; Full Source: Heliyon. 2017 Oct 18;3(10):e00427. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00427. eCollection 2017 Oct.