Low-temperature anaerobic digestion is associated with differential methanogenic protein expression

Eoin Gunnigle, Alma Siggins, Catherine Helen Botting, Matthew Alexander Fuszard, Florence Abram

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an attractive wastewater treatment technology, leading to the generation of recoverable biofuel (methane). Most industrial AD applications, carry excessive heating costs however, as AD reactors are commonly operated at mesophilic temperatures while handling waste streams discharged at ambient or cold temperatures. Consequently, low-temperature AD represents a cost effective strategy for wastewater treatment. The comparative investigation of key microbial groups underpinning laboratory-scale AD
bioreactors operated at 37°C, 15°C and 7°C was carried out. Community structure was monitored using 16S rRNA clone libraries, while abundance of the most prominent methanogens was investigated using qPCR. In addition, metaproteomics was employed to access the microbial functions carried out in situ. While δ-Proteobacteria were prevalent at 37°C, their abundance decreased dramatically at lower temperatures with inverse trends observed for Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Methanobacteriales and Methanosaeta were predominant at all temperatures investigated while Methanomicrobiales abundance increased at 15°C compared to 37°C and 7°C. Changes in operating temperature resulted in the differential expression of proteins involved in methanogenesis, which was found to occur in all bioreactors, as corroborated by bioreactors’ performance. This study demonstrated the value of employing a polyphasic approach to address microbial community dynamics and highlighted the functional redundancy of AD microbiomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnv059
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number10
Early online date10 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Metaproteomics
  • Microbial phylogenetic diversity
  • Methanogenic community
  • Low-temperature


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