Revealing the comprehensive impact of organic compounds on the partial nitrification-anammox system during incineration leachate treatment: metabolic hierarchy and adaptation

Water Res. 2024 May 15:255:121534. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2024.121534. Epub 2024 Mar 26.


Organics, as widespread pollutants in high-strength ammonia wastewater, typically exert adverse effects on the performance of partial nitrification-anammox (PNA) systems. However, the in-depth knowledge on how microbial consortia respond to these disturbances remains limited. In this study, we unveiled the evolution of complex organic matter flow and its impact on the metabolic hierarchy and adaptation of microbial consortia, employing multi-omics approaches, i.e., 16S amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, and metabolomics. In a two-stage PNA system sequentially treating synthetic wastewater and incineration leachate over 230 days, partial nitrification stayed stable (nitrite accumulation > 97%) while anammox efficiency dropped (nitrogen removal decreased from 86% to 78%). The phenomenon was revealed to be correlated with the evolution of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and xenobiotic organic compounds (XOCs). In the PN stage, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) exhibited excellent adaptability through active metabolic regulation after treating leachate. Numerous heterotrophs proliferated to utilize DOM and XOCs, triggering a "boom" state evident in the glycerophospholipid metabolism. However, in the anammox stage, the competition between carbon fixation and central carbon metabolism within autotrophs and heterotrophs became evident. Increased biosynthesis costs inhibited the central metabolism (specific anammox activity decreased by 66%) and the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway of anammox bacteria (AnAOB) in the presence of recalcitrant organics. Additionally, the degradation of organics was limited, exhibiting a "bust" state. This study revealed the metabolic adaption and susceptibility of AOB and AnAOB in response to organics from the leachate, demonstrating the applicability of the two-stage configuration for treating high-strength wastewater containing abundant and diverse organics.

Keywords: Anammox; Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM); Incineration leachate; Multi-omics analysis; Partial Nitrification (PN); Xenobiotic Organic Compound (XOC).