Microbial communities were monitored in terms of structure, function and response to physicochemical variables during anaerobic digestion of tannery and associated slaughterhouse effluent in: (i) 2 L biochemical methane potential batch reactors at different inoculum to substrate ratios (2-5) and initial sulfate concentrations (665-2000 mg/L), and (ii) 20 L anaerobic sequencing batch reactors with different mixing regimes (continuous vs. intermittent). Methanogenic and sulfidogenic community compositions in the 2 L reactors evolved initially, but stabilised after the start of biogas generation, although significant (ANOSIM p < 0.05) changes in the physicochemical parameters indicated continued metabolic activity. Both hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic archaeal genera were present in high relative abundances. Continuous stirring preferentially selected the metabolically versatile genus Methanosarcina, suggesting that higher specific methane generation in the continuously stirred system (168 vs. 19.5 mL methane per gram volatile solids per week) was related to the metabolic activities of members of this genus.
Keywords: Methanogenesis; Methanosarcina mazei; Methanosarcina soligelidi; Mixing; Sulfate reduction.
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