Distribution of Nitrosomonas europaea and Nitrobacter winogradskyi in an autotrophic nitrifying biofilm reactor as depicted by molecular analyses and mathematical modelling

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The autotrophic two-species biofilm from the packed bed reactor of a life-support system, containing Nitrosomonas europaea ATCC 19718 and Nitrobacter winogradskyi ATCC 25391, was analysed after 4.8 years of continuous operation performing complete nitrification. Realtime quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) was used to quantify N. europaea and N. winogradskyi along the vertical axis of the reactor, revealing a spatial segregation of N. europaea and N. winogradskyi. The main parameters influencing the spatial segregation of both nitrifiers along the bed were assessed through a multi-species one-dimensional biofilm model generated with AQUASIM software. The factor that contributed the most to this distribution profile was a small deviation from the flow pattern of a perfectly mixed tank towards plug-flow. The results indicate that the model can estimate the impact of specific biofilm parameters and predict the nitrification efficiency and population dynamics of a multispecies biofilm


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1700-1714
JournalWater Research
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Ammonium oxidation, AQUASIM, FISH, Juxta-positioning, Model, Nitrite oxidation, Real-time PCR

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