Effects of micro-aeration on microbial niches and antimicrobial resistances in blackwater anaerobic digesters

Bing Guo, Najiaowa Yu, David G. Weissbrodt, Yang Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic digestion (AD) of source-diverted blackwater (toilet flush) at ambient room temperature presents challenges for fast hydrolysis of particulate matters. This study investigated the effect of different micro-aeration dosages for blackwater AD. Sequencing batch reactors were operated at ambient room temperature (22 ± 1°C) with micro-aeration (0, 5, 10, 50, and 150 mg O2 g−1 CODfeed per cycle) and gradually reduced hydraulic retention times from 5 d to 2 d. The methanogenesis efficiencies were greater at low oxygen dosages (i.e., 0, 5, 10) while the volatile fatty acids (VFAs) accumulated more at high oxygen dosages (i.e., 50, 150). Microbial communities were significantly different under different oxygen dosages (p<0.05), with segregation of microbial ecological niches in low and high oxygen dosage communities. The low-oxygen-dosage niche (0, 5, and 10 mg g−1 CODfeed) was inhabited by fermenting and syntrophic bacteria (e.g., Cytophaga, Syntrophomonas) and methanogens (e.g., Methanobacterium, Methanolinea, Methanosaeta). The high-oxygen-dosage niche (50 and 150 mg g−1 CODfeed) had significantly (p<0.05) more facultative anaerobic bacteria (Ignavibacteriales and Cloacamonales), and aerobic bacteria (Rhodocyclales). Moreover, blackwater can be a source of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs), which are affected by different oxygen dosages. The ARG variation correlated with the microbial community composition (p<0.05). Low-oxygen-dosage communities contained a higher prevalence of mobile gene elements (intI1 and korB) and tetM, ermB, sul1, sul2, and blaCTX-M than the high-oxygen-dosage communities, indicating that oxygen dosage influenced the prevalence of populations carrying ARGs. These findings suggest that application of micro-aeration to AD can be used to control ARG profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117035
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs)
  • Blackwater
  • Micro-aeration
  • Microbial niche


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