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Dynamic variation of the microbial community structure during the long-time mono-fermentation of maize and sugar beet silage

Klang, Johanna; Theuerl, Susanne; Szewzyk, Ulrich; Huth, Markus; Tölle, Rainer; Klocke, Michael

This study investigated the development of the microbial community during a long-term (337 days) anaerobic digestion of maize and sugar beet silage, two feedstocks that significantly differ in their chemical composition. For the characterization of the microbial dynamics, the community profiling method terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) in combination with a cloning-sequencing approach was applied. Our results revealed a specific adaptation of the microbial community to the supplied feedstocks. Based on the high amount of complex compounds, the anaerobic conversion rate of maize silage was slightly lower compared with the sugar beet silage. It was demonstrated that members from the phylum Bacteroidetes are mainly involved in the degradation of low molecular weight substances such as sugar, ethanol and acetate, the main compounds of the sugar beet silage. It was further shown that species of the genus Methanosaeta are highly sensitive against sudden stress situations such as a strong decrease in the ammonium nitrogen (NH4+-N) concentration or a drop of the pH value. In both cases, a functional compensation by members of the genera Methanoculleus and/or Methanosarcina was detected. However, the overall biomass conversion of both feedstocks proceeded efficiently as a steady state between acid production and consumption was recorded, which further resulted in an equal biogas yield.
Published in: Microbial biotechnology, 10.1111/1751-7915.12263, Wiley-Blackwell