Nitrogen removal and ammonia-oxidising bacteria in a vertical flow constructed wetland treating inorganic wastewater

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Nitrogen removal performance and the ammonia-oxidising bacterial (AOB) community were assessed in the batch loaded 1.3 ha saturated surface vertical flow wetland at CSBP Ltd, a fertiliser and chemical manufacturer located in Kwinana, Western Australia. From September 2008 to October 2009 water quality was monitored and sediment samples collected for bacterial analyses. During the period of study the wetland received an average inflow of 1,109 m3/day with NH3-N = 40 mg/L and NO3-N = 23 mg/L. Effluent NH3-N and NO3-N were on average 31 and 25 mg/L, respectively. The overall NH3-N removal rate for the period was 1.2 g/m2/day indicating the nitrifying capacity of the wetland. The structure of the AOB community was analysed using group specific primers for the ammonia monooxygenase gene (amoA) by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism and by clone libraries to identify key members. The majority of sequences obtained were most similar to Nitrosomonas sp. while Nitrosospira sp. was less frequent. Another two vertical flow wetlands, 0.8 ha each, were commissioned at CSBP in July 2009, since then the wetland in this study has received nitrified effluent from these two new cells.

Keywords: amoA, constructed wetland, nitrification, nitrogen removal, T-RFLP, vertical flow

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