The adaptation of nitrifying microorganisms to inhibiting substances at meso- and psychrophilic temperature conditions

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This paper deals with adaption capacity of nitrifiers to allylthiourea (ATU) as a model inhibitor at two temperature levels. Nitrifying communities were developed at 15 (BM15) and 30 °C (BM30). The activity of the nitrifiers was determined by using short-time respiration (STR) tests, oxygen monitoring and in-situ measurements. The oxygen monitoring provided information about the temperature-dependent time delay between the dosage of NH4+-N or ATU and reaching its characteristic level of effect. The greatly scattered results from the STR tests for BM15 were thus explained by the time delay, which was two to three times higher than for BM30. Furthermore, combining the results of oxygen-monitoring and in-situ measurements it can be stated that an adaption to ATU at psychrophilic temperature conditions was not achieved, whereby up to 40% of nitrification was sustained for BM30 at an ATU-concentration over 7 mg/l. The nitrification by BM15 did not start until ATU was degraded to 1–2 mg/l, the typical inhibition concentration for ATU. Hence, the results indicate a population drift to adapted nitrifiers at mesophilic conditions and ATU-degrading microorganisms at psychrophilic temperature conditions, which can have a considerable influence on domestic wastewater treatment in cold climates receiving industrial effluents.

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