Experimental coalescence of microbial communities in anaerobic digesters

Abstract : Anaerobic digestion is a biological process carried out by a complex and synergistic network of microbial communities allowing the degradation of organic matter such as agricultural waste or effluents from wastewater treatment plants, into biogas, a gas recoverable into energy. The mechanisms influencing microbial communities at the heart of this process but also in nature remain misunderstood because of a low understanding of their dynamics. The objectives of this project are therefore to develop an anaerobic digestion system to better understand the dynamics of microbial community assembly. Thus, a new continuous reactor process has been developed with automated feeding, biomass wasting and degassing functions. Automation and multiplexing of reactors allows for the continuous parallel manipulation of 30 reactors in parallel. In addition to the automation, many parameters are versatile, such as the substrate loading (once a minute up to batch conditions), the reactor volume (50 to 200 mL), the temperature (room to 55°C), but also the use of the aerobic system or the implementation of other tools such as LEDs for phototrophic cultures. Capable of accurately quantifying the performance of a methanogenic ecosystem, this system has enabled us to test the structure and the performance of five different methanogenic ecosystems that have been mixed and tested individually. By mixing different methanogenic ecosystems the Archaea diversity has increased transiently. Besides, a correlation is observed between the diversity of mixed communities and their methanogenic performance; yet the individual communities have a better functioning at the same level of diversity. Interestingly, the mixture of some communities has allowed for better methane production than individual communities, suggesting the development of specific interactions in these communities. In a novel way compared to the literature and that the majority of individual bacterial communities are found in mixed communities. Contrary to the idea of selecting a more adapted or functional community, here the majority of communities have settled. These experiments suggest that a parameter such as the functionality of a bioprocess can be improved by bioaugmentation.
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Diane Plouchart. Experimental coalescence of microbial communities in anaerobic digesters. Biotechnology. Montpellier SupAgro, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018NSAM0009⟩. ⟨tel-02159388⟩

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