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The role of different methanogen groups evaluated by Real-Time qPCR as high-efficiency bioindicators of wet anaerobic co-digestion of organic waste

Deborah Traversi1*, Silvia Villa1, Marco Acri2, Biancamaria Pietrangeli3, Raffaella Degan1 and Giorgio Gilli1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Microbiology, University of the Study of Turin, via Santena 5 bis, 10126, Turin, Italy

2 SMAT S.p.A., corso XI Febbraio 14, 10152, Turin, Italy

3 ISPESL, via Urbana 167, 00184, Rome, Italy

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AMB Express 2011, 1:28  doi:10.1186/2191-0855-1-28

Published: 7 October 2011


Methanogen populations and their domains are poorly understood; however, in recent years, research on this topic has emerged. The relevance of this field has also been enhanced by the growing economic interest in methanogen skills, particularly the production of methane from organic substrates. Management attention turned to anaerobic wastes digestion because the volume and environmental impact reductions. Methanogenesis is the biochemically limiting step of the process and the industrially interesting phase because it connects to the amount of biogas production. For this reason, several studies have evaluated the structure of methanogen communities during this process. Currently, it is clear that the methanogen load and diversity depend on the feeding characteristics and the process conditions, but not much data is available. In this study, we apply a Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method based on mcrA target to evaluate, by specific probes, some subgroups of methanogens during the mesophilic anaerobic digestion process fed wastewater sludge and organic fraction of the municipal solid waste with two different pre-treatments. The obtained data showed the prevalence of Methanomicrobiales and significantly positive correlation between Methanosarcina and Methanosaetae and the biogas production rate (0.744 p < 0.01 and 0.641 p < 0.05). Methanosarcina detected levels are different during the process after the two pre-treatment of the input materials (T-test p < 0.05). Moreover, a role as diagnostic tool could be suggested in digestion optimisation.

methanogen; anaerobic digestion; biogas production; Methanosarcina; Archaea communities