Microbial Aggregate and Functional Community Distribution in a Sequencing Batch Reactor with Anammox Granules

  • Shan Sun

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation) process is a one-step conversion of ammonia into nitrogen gas with nitrite as an electron acceptor. It has been developed as a sustainable technology for ammonia removal from wastewater in the last decade. For wastewater treatment, anammox biomass was widely developed as microbial aggregate where the conditions for enrichment of anammox community must be delicately controlled and growth of other bacteria especially NOB should be suppressed to enhance nitrogen removal efficiency. Little is known about the distribution of microbial aggregates in anammox process. Thus the objective of our study was to assess whether segregation of biomass occurs in granular anammox system. In this study, a laboratory-scale sequential batch reactor (SBR) was successfully operated for a period of 80 days with granular anammox biomass. Temporal and spatial distribution of microbial aggregates was studied by particle characterization system and the distribution of functional microbial communities was studied with qPCR and 16s rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing. Our study revealed the spatial and temporal distribution of biomass aggregates based on their sizes and density. Granules (>200 μm) preferentially accumulated in the bottom of the reactor while floccules (30-200 μm) were relatively rich at the top layer. The average density of aggregate was higher at the bottom than the density of those at the top layer. Degranulation caused by lack of hydrodynamic shear force in the top layer was considered responsible for this phenomenon. NOB was relatively rich in the top layer while percentage of anammox population was higher at the bottom, and anammox bacteria population gradually increased over a period of time. NOB growth was supposed to be associated with the increase of floccules based on the concurrent occurrence. Thus, segregation of biomass can be utilized to develop an effective strategy to enrich anammox and wash out NOB by shortening the settling time and withdrawing floccular biomass from the top of the reactor.
Date of AwardMay 2013
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorPascal Saikaly (Supervisor)


  • Anammox
  • SBR
  • Particle Characterisation
  • qPCR

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