Microbial community dynamics reflect reactor stability during the anaerobic digestion of a very high strength and sulfate-rich vinasse

Janet Jiménez, Ernesto L. Barrera*, Jo De Vrieze, Nico Boon, Steven DeMeester, Henri Spanjers, Osvaldo Romero Romero, Jo Dewulf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Microbial community dynamics during the anaerobic digestion of vinasse has been little studied. However, having knowledge about it is essential for early detection of reactor operational difficulties to apply preventive actions. This research studies the microbial community dynamics in the anaerobic digestion of vinasse, linking to experimental observations about product yields and organic matter degradation. RESULTS: Methane and sulfide yields decreased with increasing SO4 2-/COD ratio, while the fraction of organic matter degraded by sulfate reducing bacteria increased from 4.5 ± 0.3% to 27.1 ± 0.6%. The archaeal community showed that acetoclastic Methanosaetaceae were little affected by the increase of the SO4 2-/COD ratio, in contrast to the Methanomicrobiales and Methanobacteriales population, which decreased during the experiment. The total bacterial diversity was influenced mainly by substrate composition, showing that the increase of the SO4 2-/COD ratio above 0.10 shifted the bacterial community to a lower richness. CONCLUSION: These results provide knowledge on the dynamics of the microbial communities, which can be useful to control the anaerobic digestion of sulfate-rich vinasses, showing that reactor stability equates to the higher ratios between total methanogens and total bacteria gene copy numbers, whereas operational difficulties can be associated to lower bacterial richness and higher community organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-984
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • anaerobic digestion
  • microbial community
  • reactor stability
  • sulfate reduction
  • vinasse


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