Removal of micro-particles by microbial granules used for aerobic wastewater treatment

Water Sci Technol. 2004;50(12):147-54.


Microbial granules with a diameter from 0.4 mm to 3.0 mm have been produced by fast sedimentation and retention of microbial aggregates in sequencing batch airlift reactors used for model wastewater treatment. The wastewater was with or without addition of calcium salt. The granules were able not only to degrade organic matter but to remove nano- and micro-particles from wastewater due to microchannels and pores in the matrix of the granules. To detect the removal of 0.1 microm, 0.6 pm, 4.2 microm fluorescent microspheres, and cells of Escherichia coli, stained by permeable nucleic acid stain SYTO9, the granules were incubated with these particles. The rate of particle removal and their accumulation in the granules was measured by a Fluoview300 confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) (Olympus, Japan); a FACSCalibur flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson, CA, USA), and a fluorescence spectrometer LS-50B (Perkin-Elmer, UK). The release or removal of biological and non-biological particles was analyzed by a flow cytometer after DNA staining. Total number of the particles bigger than 0.1 microm in the reactors was approximately 4 x 10(7) per ml, and 23% of these particles were bacterial cells. The 0.1 microm and 4.2. microm microbeads were accumulated within 250 microm in the upper layer of the microbial granule but externally added cells of Escherichia coli penetrated to the depth of approximately 800 microm in the granules without calcium addition. Microbial granules contained also attached ciliates but accumulation of the particles in protozoan cells was smaller than in the granule matrix. Kinetics of particle sorption was revealed by flow cytometry and fluorescence spectrometry. Almost half of the stained cells of E. coli can be removed by the granules for one hour. The ability of the microbial granules to remove the particles can enhance their function in aerobic treatment of wastewater.

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Bioreactors*
  • Escherichia coli / cytology
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microspheres
  • Nanotechnology
  • Organic Chemicals / isolation & purification
  • Organic Chemicals / metabolism
  • Particle Size
  • Porosity
  • Sewage / microbiology*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Sewage