454 pyrosequencing assessment of biodegradative bacteria from thermal hydrolysis processes

Fabrizio Colosimo, Richard Lord, Russell Thomas, Jonathan R. Lloyd, Christopher Boothman, Robert M Kalin

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Anaerobic treatment process is a cost-effective method for treating organic wastes, since the biogas formed can be used for heat/electricity production and the digester residues can be recycled for other applications. An innovative use of the digestate could be as biodegradative and methanogenic inoculum for the stimulation of methane production in gas-producing or depleted wells. The microbial communities involved in the biodegradation of petrochemical waste are similar to the indigenous microorganisms typically found in unconventional basins. These communities also follow the same cascade of reactions: from the initial breakdown of complex molecules to the production of intermediate compounds used by methanogens. This study carried out a culture-independent assessment of the bacterial community composition of a digestate from the Bran Sands Advanced Digestion Facility (Middleborough, UK) and compared the results with the microbial populations found in unconventional gas basins. The 454 pyrosequencing analyses revealed a bacterial community dominated by Thermotogae, Bacteroidia, Clostridia and Synergistia, which are typically found in unconventional gas systems. The classification of nucleotide sequence reads and assembled contigs revealed a genetic profile characteristic for an anaerobic microbial consortium running fermentative metabolic pathways. The assignment of numerous sequences was related to hydrocarbon decomposition and digestion of cellulosic material, which indicates that the bacterial community is engaged in hydrolysis of plant-derived material. The bacterial community composition suggest that the effluent of the digester can be used as a biodegradative inoculum for the stimulation of methane generation in unconventional wells, where events of microbial methanogenesis have been previously observed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy and Environment Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Mar 2017


  • pyrosequencing
  • anaerobic degradation
  • petrochemical waste
  • microbial populations
  • hydrocarbon decomposition
  • cellulosic material
  • microbial methanogenesis


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