Microbial diversity and metaproteomic analysis of activated sludge responses to naphthalene and anthracene exposure


The activated sludge process can effectively remove polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from wastewater via biodegradation. However, the degradable microorganisms and functional enzymes involved in this process remain unclear. In this study, we successfully employed a laboratory-scale sequential batch reactor to investigate variations in microbial community and protein expression in response to the addition of different PAHs and process time. The analysis of bacterial community structure by 454 pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene indicated that bacteria from Burkholderiales order were dominant in PAHs treated sludge. Mass spectrometry performed with 2D protein profiles of all sludge samples demonstrated that most proteins exhibiting differential expression profiles during the process were derived from Burkholderiales populations; these proteins are involved in DNA replication, fatty acid and glucose metabolism, stress response, protein synthesis, and aromatic hydrocarbon metabolism. Nevertheless, the protein expression profiles indicated that naphthalene, but not anthracene, can induce the expression of PAH-degrading proteins and accelerate its elimination from sludge. Though only naphthalene and anthracene were added into our experimental groups, the differentially expressed enzymes involved in other PAHs (especially biphenyl) metabolism were also detected. This study provides apparent evidence linking the metabolic activities of Burkholderiales populations with the degradation of PAHs in activated sludge processes. Overall, our findings highlighted the successful application of metaproteomics integrated with microbial diversity analysis by high-throughput sequencing technique on the analysis of environmental samples, which could provide a convenience to monitor the changes in proteins expression profiles and their correlation with microbial diversity.

Authors: Shanshan Li, Shaoda Hu, Sanyuan Shi, Lu Ren, Wei Yan, Huabing Zhao
; Full Source: RSC advances 2019 Jul 24;9(40):22841-22852. doi: 10.1039/c9ra04674g.