Data_Sheet_1_Determination of Microbial Maintenance in Acetogenesis and Methanogenesis by Experimental and Modeling Techniques.zip
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For biogas-producing continuous stirred tank reactors, an increase in dilution rate increases the methane production rate as long as substrate input can be converted fully. However, higher dilution rates necessitate higher specific microbial growth rates, which are assumed to have a strong impact on the apparent microbial biomass yield due to cellular maintenance. To test this, we operated two reactors at 37°C in parallel at dilution rates of 0.18 and 0.07 days-1 (hydraulic retention times of 5.5 and 14 days, doubling times of 3.9 and 9.9 days in steady state) with identical inoculum and a mixture of volatile fatty acids as sole carbon sources. We evaluated the performance of the Anaerobic Digestion Model No. 1 (ADM1), a thermodynamic black box approach (TBA), and dynamic flux balance analysis (dFBA), to describe the experimental observations. All models overestimated the impact of dilution rate on the apparent microbial biomass yield when using default parameter values. Based on our analysis, a maintenance coefficient value below 0.2 kJ per carbon mole of microbial biomass per hour should be used for the TBA, corresponding to 0.12 mmol ATP per gram dry weight per hour for dFBA, which strongly deviates from the value of 9.8 kJ Cmol h-1 that has been suggested to apply to all anaerobic microorganisms at 37°C. We hypothesized that a decrease in dilution rate might select taxa with minimized maintenance expenditure. However, no major differences in the dominating taxa between the reactors were observed based on amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of mcrA genes. Surprisingly, Methanosaeta dominated over Methanosarcina even at a dilution rate of 0.18 days-1, which contradicts previous model expectations. Furthermore, only 23–49% of the bacterial reads could be assigned to known syntrophic fatty acid oxidizers, indicating that unknown members of this functional group remain to be discovered. In conclusion, microbial maintenance was found to be much lower for acetogenesis and methanogenesis than previously assumed, likely due to the exceptionally low growth rates in anaerobic digestion. This finding might also be relevant for other microbial systems operating at similarly low growth rates.
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