Biotic manganese oxidation coupled with methane oxidation using a continuous-flow bioreactor system under marine conditions
Biogenic manganese oxides (BioMnOx) can be applied for the effective removal and recovery of trace metals from wastewater because of their high adsorption capacity. Although a freshwater continuous-flow system for a nitrifier-based Mn-oxidizing microbial community for producing BioMnOx has been developed so far, a seawater continuous-flow bioreactor system for BioMnOx production has not been established. Here, we report BioMnOx production by a methanotroph-based microbial community by using a continuous-flow bioreactor system. The bioreactor system was operated using a deep-sea sediment sample as the inoculum with methane as the energy source for over 2 years. The BioMnOx production became evident after 370 days of reactor operation. The maximum Mn oxidation rate was 11.4 mg L−1 day−1. An X-ray diffraction analysis showed that the accumulated BioMnOx was birnessite. 16S rRNA gene-based clone analyses indicated that methanotrophic bacterial members were relatively abundant in the system; however, none of the known Mn-oxidizing bacteria were detected. A continuous-flow bioreactor system coupled with nitrification was also run in parallel for 636 days, but no BioMnOx production was observed in this bioreactor system. The comparative experiments indicated that the methanotroph-based microbial community, rather than the nitrifier-based community, was effective for BioMnOx production under the marine environmental conditions.