Microbial community profiles in two parallel CSTR biogas reactors fed with whey permeate and cow manure were investigated. The operating conditions for these two reactors were identical, yet only one of them (R1) showed stable performance, whereas the other (R2) showed a decrease in methane production accompanied by accumulation of propionic acid and, later, acetic acid. This gave a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of the microbial communities in two biogas reactors apparently operating close to the edge of stability. The microbial community was dominated by Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, and the methanogens Methanobacteriales and Methanomicrobiales in both reactors, but with larger fluctuations in R2. Correlation analyses showed that the depletion of propionic acid in R1 and the late increase of acetic acid in R2 was related to several bacterial groups. The biogas production in R1 shows that stable co-digestion of manure and whey can be achieved with reasonable yields.
Keywords: Anaerobic digestion; Co-digestion; High throughput sequencing; Methane; Microbial community.
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