Low-temperature anaerobic digestion
Microbial community structure
Substrate utilisation rate
Specific methanogenic activity and kinetics ofmethanogenic populations
MICROBIAL COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
The application of low-temperature (10 A degrees C) anaerobic digestion (LtAD) for the treatment of complex dairy-based wastewater in an inverted fluidised bed (IFB) reactor was investigated. Inadequate mixing intensity provoked poor hydrolysis of the substrate (mostly protein), which resulted in low chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal efficiency throughout the trial, averaging -69 % at the best operational period. Overgrowth of the attached biomass to the support particles (Extendospheres) induced bed stratification by provoking agglutination of the particles and supporting their washout by sedimentation, which contributed to unstable bioprocess performance at the organic loading rates (OLRs) between 0.5 and 5 kg COD m(-3) day(-1). An applied OLR above 2 kg COD m(-3) day(-1) additionally promoted acidification and strongly influenced the microbial composition and dynamics. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens appeared to be the mostly affected group by the Extendospheres particle washout as a decrease in their abundance was observed by quantitative PCR analysis towards the end of the trial, although the specific methanogenic activity and maximum substrate utilisation rate on H-2/CO2 indicated high metabolic activity and preference towards hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis of the reactor biomass at this stage. The bacterial community in the bioreactor monitored via denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) also suggested an influence of OLR stress on bacterial community structure and population dynamics. The data presented in this work can provide useful information in future optimisation of fluidised reactors intended for digestion of complex industrial wastewaters during LtAD.