Microb Biotechnol 2019 Apr 17. Epub 2019 Apr 17.
Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany.
Biogas production is a biotechnological process realized by complex bacterial, archaeal and likely fungal communities. Their composition was assessed in nine full-scale biogas plants with distinctly differing feedstock input and process parameters. This study investigated the actually active microbial community members by using a comprehensive sequencing approach based on ribosomal 16S and 28S rRNA fragments. The prevailing taxonomical units of each respective community were subsequently linked to process parameters. Ribosomal rRNA of bacteria, archaea and fungi, respectively, showed different compositions with respect to process parameters and supplied feedstocks: (i) bacterial communities were affected by the key factors temperature and ammonium concentration; (ii) composition of archaea was mainly related to process temperature; and (iii) relative abundance of fungi was linked to feedstocks supplied to the digesters. Anaerobic digesters with a high methane yield showed remarkably similar bacterial communities regarding identified taxonomic families. Although archaeal communities differed strongly on genus level from each other, the respective digesters still showed high methane yields. Functional redundancy of the archaeal communities may explain this effect. 28S rRNA sequences of fungi in all nine full-scale anaerobic digesters were primarily classified as facultative anaerobic Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Since the presence of ribosomal 28S rRNA indicates that fungi may be active in the biogas digesters, further research should be carried out to examine to which extent they are important players in anaerobic digestion processes.