Succession and convergence of biofilm communities in fixed-film reactors treating aromatic hydrocarbons in groundwater
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Community composition, succession, and performance were compared in three fluidized bed reactors (FBR) operated to test preemptive colonization and the influence of toluene compared with a mixture of benzene, toluene, and p-xylene (BTX) as feeds. One reactor was inoculated with toluene-degrading strains Pseudomonas putida PaW1, Burkholderia cepacia G4, and B. pickettii PKO1. PaW1 outcompeted the other two strains. When groundwater strains were allowed to challenge the steady-state biofilm
... state biofilm developed by inoculated strains, they readily displaced the inoculated strains and further reduced the toluene effluent concentration from 0.140 to 0.063 mg/liter for 98% removal. Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) of reactor community DNA showed a succession of populations to a pattern that was stable for at least 4 months of operation. Parallel reactors fed toluene and BTX but inoculated directly from groundwater had the same treatment performance and the same ARDRA profiles as each other and as the seeded reactor once the groundwater community took over. Convergence and stability of populations were confirmed by genotype analysis of 120 isolates taken from all reactors and at several times. Ninety percent of the isolates were of 4 of the 12 genotypes found, and their ARDRA patterns accounted for most of the community ARDRA patterns. Estimates of the maximum specific growth rates ( max ), half-saturation constants (K m ), and maximum substrate utilization rates (V max ) of the 12 genotypes isolated revealed a rather high diversity of toluene use kinetics even though the toluene in the feed was constant. The climax populations, however, generally showed kinetic parameters indicative of greater competitiveness than the inocula. rRNA sequence analysis of three codominant strains showed them to be members of the alpha, beta, and gamma subdivisions of the Proteobacteria. Two were similar to Comamonas and Pseudomonas putida, but the member of the alpha group was somewhat distant from any organism in the rRNA database. The convergence of communities to the same composition from three different starting conditions and their constancy over several months suggests that a rather stable community was selected.