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Anaerobic digestion (AD) is used to treat waste and produce bioenergy. However, toxicants, which originate from the substrate, can inhibit or damage the digestion process. Methanogenic archaea (MA), which are the executor in the methanogenesis stage, are more sensitive than bacteria to these toxicants. This review discusses the effects of substrate-driven toxicants, namely, antibiotics, H2S and sulfate, heavy metals (HMs), long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), and ammonia nitrogen, on the activity of MAs, methanogenic pathways, and the inter-genus succession of MAs. The adverse effects of these five toxicants on MA include effects on pH, damages to cell membranes, the prevention of protein synthesis, changes in hydrogen partial pressure, a reduction in the bioavailability of trace elements, and hindrance of mass transfer. These effects cause a reduction in MA activity and the succession of MAs and methanogenic pathways, which affect AD performance. Under the stress of these toxicants, succession occurs among HA (hydrogenotrophic methanogen), AA (acetoclastic methanogen), and MM (methylotrophic methanogen), especially HA gradually replaces AA as the dominant MA. Simultaneously, the dominant methanogenic pathway also changes from the aceticlastic pathway to other methanogenic pathways. A comprehensive understanding of the impact of toxicants on MA permits more specific targeting when developing strategies to mitigate or eliminate the effects of these toxicants. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Yafan Cai, Zehui Zheng, Xiaofen Wang. Obstacles faced by methanogenic archaea originating from substrate-driven toxicants in anaerobic digestion. Journal of hazardous materials. 2021 Feb 05;403:123938

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PMID: 33264986

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