Effects of acetate, propionate and butyrate on the thermophilic anaerobic degradation of propionate in methanogenic sludge and defined cultures.

J.B. van Lier, K.C.F. Grolle, C.T.M.J. Frijters, A.J.M. Stams, G. Lettinga

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Abstract

The effects of acetate, propionate, and butyrate on the anaerobic thermophilic conversion of propionate by methanogenic sludge and by enriched propionate-oxidizing bacteria in syntrophy with Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum delta H were studied. The methanogenic sludge was cultivated in an upflow anaerobic sludge bed (UASB) reactor fed with propionate (35 mM) as the sole substrate for a period of 80 days. Propionate degradation was shown to be severely inhibited by the addition of 50 mM acetate to the influent of the UASB reactor. The inhibitory effect remained even when the acetate concentration in the effluent was below the level of detection. Recovery of propionate oxidation occurred only when acetate was omitted from the influent medium. Propionate degradation by the methanogenic sludge in the UASB reactor was not affected by the addition of an equimolar concentration (35 mM) of butyrate to the influent. However, butyrate had a strong inhibitory effect on the growth of the propionate-oxidizing enrichment culture. In that case, the conversion of propionate was almost completely inhibited at a butyrate concentration of 10 mM. However, addition of a butyrate-oxidizing enrichment culture abolished the inhibitory effect, and propionate oxidation was even stimulated. All experiments were conducted at pH 7.0 to 7.7. The thermophilic syntrophic culture showed a sensitivity to acetate and propionate similar to that of mesophilic cultures described in the literature. Additions of butyrate or acetate to the propionate medium had no effect on the hydrogen partial pressure in the biogas of an UASB reactor, nor was the hydrogen partial pressure in propionate-degrading cultures affected by the two acids.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1011
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume57
Publication statusPublished - 1993

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