Monitoring bacterial community structure and variability in time scale in full-scale anaerobic digesters

Sang Hoon Lee, Hyun Jin Kang, Young Haeng Lee, Taek Jun Lee, Keumsuk Han, Youngjun Choi, Hee Deung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Using a high-throughput pyrosequencing technology, this study assessed bacterial community structure and time-scale variability in great detail in seven full-scale anaerobic digesters operated variously in terms of influent substrate, digestion temperature, and reactor configuration. Pyrosequencing generated a total of 83774 sequence reads from 40 digester sludge samples collected monthly for six months. The highest number of sequence reads were detected within Proteobacteria (20.5%), followed by those within Bacteroidetes (19.7%), Firmicutes (17.8%), and Chloroflexi (4.8%). The relative composition of bacterial populations was varied within the digesters as well as between the digesters, and the bacterial community structures were mainly influenced by digestion temperature. Detailed bacterial community structures were assessed by analyzing the operational taxonomic units (OTUs) based on 97% sequence similarity, which resulted in a total of 9051 OTUs. Among these, a total of 31 core OTUs were analyzed and inferred phylogenetically, which enabled us to classify the sequences within an unclassified phylum. Unclassified sequences were mostly affiliated with the sequences within Spirochaetes and Firmicutes. Interestingly, numerically dominant novel phylotypes (18% of the total sequence reads) presumably involved in anaerobic digestion within Spirochaetes were identified. Temporal variability was further explored using a non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination which demonstrated that the variability of the bacterial community within the digesters was smaller than between digesters. Correlation analysis demonstrated that digester performance and operational conditions affected the pattern of bacterial community in the ordination. Additionally, a multi-response permutation procedure revealed that the bacterial communities within the digesters were more similar than those belonging to other digesters statistically, demonstrating a patchiness of the digesters in the distribution of bacterial populations. Overall, this study revealed the correlation of bacterial community structure and time-scale variability with digester performance and operating conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1893-1905
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jul

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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