Genome-centric microbiome analysis reveals solid retention time (SRT)-shaped species interactions and niche differentiation in food waste and sludge co-digesters

Water Res. 2020 Aug 15;181:115858. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2020.115858. Epub 2020 May 16.


Co-digestion of food waste with sewage sludge is widely applied for waste stabilization and energy recovery around the world. However, the effect of solid retention time (SRT) on the microbial population dynamics, metabolism and interspecies interaction have not been fully elucidated. Here, the influence of SRTs (5-25 days) on the performance of the co-digestion system was investigated and state-of-the-art genome-centric metagenomic analysis was employed to uncover the dynamics and metabolic network of the key players underlying the well-functioned and poorly-functioned co-digestion microbial communities. The results of the microbial analyses indicated that SRT largely shaped microbial community structure by enriching the syntrophic specialist Syntrophomonas and CO2/H2 ( formate)-using methanogen Methanocorpusculum in the well-functioned co-digester operated at SRT of 25 days, while selecting acid-tolerant populations Lactobacillus at SRT of 5 days. The metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) of key players, such as Syntrophomonadaceae, Methanocorpusculum, and Mesotoga, were retrieved, additionally, the syntrophic acetate oxidation plus hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis (SAO-HM) were proposed as the dominant pathway for methane production. The metabolic interaction in the co-digestion microbial consortia was profiled by assigning MAGs into functional guilds. Functional redundancy was found in the bacterial groups in hydrolysis step, and the members in these groups reduced the direct competition by niche differentiation.

Keywords: Co-digester; Metabolic interaction; Metagenome assembled genomes; Microbial communities; Solid retention time.

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Bioreactors
  • Food
  • Methane
  • Microbiota*
  • Refuse Disposal*
  • Sewage


  • Sewage
  • Methane