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Systematic study of the effect of operating variables on reactor performance and microbial diversity in laboratory-scale activated sludge reactors

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joana Baptista, Professor Russell DavenportORCiD, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD



Biological treatment processes are "complex systems" where many different kinds of microbes grow and interact in a dynamic manner. Understanding the relationship between microbial diversity and bioreactor performance could facilitate the optimisation of bioreactor design and enable the solution of bioreactor-related problems. However, systematic studies of the effects of operating variables on microbial diversity and reactor performance are rare. In this study, we determined the effects of different operating conditions and system configurations on the performance of laboratory-scale activated sludge reactors and microbial diversity, based on experiments designed using the factorial design approach. We found that the overall system performance and the diversity of the microbial communities in the reactors were affected by changes in the operating parameters. However, the relationship between diversity and performance was sometimes counterin-tuitive, as increases in system performance were not always associated with increased community diversity. Reactor configuration and addition of soil had the biggest effects on reactor performance, while the effects of organic loading rates and feed composition were less marked. Of all these parameters, reactor configuration was the only one that had a consistent effect on reactor community diversity. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pholchan MK, Baptista JD, Davenport RJ, Curtis TP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water Research

Year: 2010

Volume: 44

Issue: 5

Pages: 1341-1352

Print publication date: 01/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0043-1354

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2448

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.11.005


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