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The Science of the total environment

Response of aerobic granular sludge to the long-term presence to nanosilver in sequencing batch reactors: reactor performance, sludge property, microbial activity and community.


PMID 25460955

Abstract

The increasing use of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) raises concerns about their potential toxic effects on the environment. Granular shape sludge is a special type of microbial aggregate. The response of aerobic granular sludge (AGS) to the long-term presence of Ag NPs has not been well studied. In this study, AGS was exposed to 5 and 50mg/L Ag NPs in sequence batch reactors (SBRs) for 69 days, and its response was evaluated based on the sludge properties, microbial activity and community, and reactor performance. The results showed that Ag NPs caused inhibition to microbial activities of AGS from Day 35. At the end of 69 days of Ag NPs exposure, the microbial activity of AGS was significantly inhibited in terms of inhibitions of the ammonia oxidizing rate (33.0%), respiration rate (17.7% and 45.6%) and denitrification rate (6.8%), as well as decreases in the ammonia mono-oxygenase and nitrate reductase activities. During the long-term exposure, the AGS maintained its granular shape and large granule size (approximately 900 μm); the microbial community of AGS slightly changed, but the dominant microbial population remained. Overall, the AGS tolerated the toxicity of Ag NPs well, but a long-term exposure may produce chronic toxicity to the AGS, which is concerning.

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