Foam formation can lead to total failure of digestion process in biogas plants. In the present study, possible correlation between foaming and the presence of specific microorganisms in biogas reactors was elucidated. The microbial ecology of continuous fed digesters overloaded with proteins, lipids and carbohydrates before and after foaming incidents was characterized using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Moreover, the microbial diversity between the liquid and foaming layer was assessed. A number of genera that are known to produce biosurfactants, contain mycolic acid in their cell wall, or decrease the surface tension of the media, increased their relative abundance after foam formation. Finally, a microorganism similar to widely known foaming bacteria (Nocardia and Desulfotomaculum) was found to increase its relative abundance in all reactors once foam was observed, regardless of the used substrate. These findings suggest that foaming and specific microorganisms might have direct association which requires to be further investigated.
Bioresource Technology, 2014, Vol 167, p. 24-32
Anaerobic digestion; Foaming; Microbial community; Biogas; High throughput sequencing