A three-stage continuous culture system was used to segregate the component microbial groups of a methanogenic hexanoate-degrading association enriched from anaerobic refuse. The inhibitory effects of o-cresol concentrations (2–20 mM) on the fermentative, acetogenic, sulphate-reducing and methanogenic bacteria were then assessed in the presence of either 1.4 or 3.5 mM sulphate in the influent medium. The sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in the 1.4 mM sulphate-supplemented systems were the most sensitive to o-cresol, with 29.3 and 56.6% inhibition on supplementation with 4 and 6 mM o-cresol, respectively. With 3.5 mM supplementation, inhibition was 4.5 and 19.4%, respectively. Methanogenesis was not inhibited by concentrations <10 mM o-cresol, and complete inhibition was recorded only at concentrations ⩾10 mM. Both fermentation and acetogenesis were affected by inhibition of the electron sinks. The increase in influent sulphate concentration promoted electron flow to sulphidogenesis, as predicted on thermodynamic criteria, but did not affect the relative sensitivity of the different physiological groups.
- Sulphate-reducing bacteria