Combined deterministic and stochastic processes control microbial succession in replicate granular biofilm reactors
Journal article, 2019
Granular sludge is an efficient and compact biofilm process for wastewater treatment. However, the ecological factors involved in microbial community assembly during the granular biofilm formation are poorly understood and little is known about the reproducibility of the process. Here, three replicate bioreactors were used to investigate microbial succession during the formation of granular biofilms. We identified three successional phases. During the initial phase, the successional turnover was high and α-diversity decreased as a result of the selection of taxa adapted to grow on acetate and form aggregates. Despite these dynamic changes, the microbial communities in the replicate reactors were similar. The second successional phase occurred when the settling time was rapidly decreased to selectively retain granules in the reactors. The influence of stochasticity on succession increased and new niches were created as granules emerged, resulting in temporarily increased α-diversity. The third successional phase occurred when the settling time was kept stable and granules dominated the biomass. Turnover was low and selection resulted in the same abundant taxa in the reactors, but drift, which mostly affected low-abundant community members, caused the community in one reactor to diverge from the other two. Even so, performance was stable and similar between reactors.
microbial community dynamics