Author(s): Zhang X, Bishop PL
Abstract Share this page
Abstract This study discovered that biofilm extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are biodegradable by their own producers and by other microorganisms when they are starved. The study was performed in a comparative fashion to examine the biodegradability of biofilm EPS by the microorganisms from the original biofilm (its own producers) and from activated sludge (other microorganisms). Four distinctive phases were observed during EPS biodegradation. In the first phase, instantaneous concentration increases of carbohydrate and protein in the test solutions were observed when EPS was added; in the second phase, easily biodegradable EPS from the added EPS was quickly utilized; in the third phase, microorganisms began to produce soluble EPS, using the minimally biodegradable EPS left from the previously added EPS; in the fourth phase, cells consumed the newly produced EPS and microbial activity gradually stopped. This study suggests that EPS can be used as a substrate, and that the EPS carbohydrate can be utilized faster than the EPS protein. The EPS utilization rates (including carbohydrate and protein) in the activated sludge suspension were greater than those in the biofilm suspension. It may take microorganisms longer to get acclimated to a new nutrient environment if they are in a starved state.
This article was published in Chemosphere
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering