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Recently, the use of phototrophs for wastewater treatment has been revisited because of new approaches to separate them from effluent streams. One manifestation uses oxygenic photogranules (OPGs) which are dense, easily-settleable granular biofilms of cyanobacteria, which surrounding populations of heterotrophs, autotrophs, and microalgae. OPGs can remove COD and nitrogenous compounds without external aeration. To better grow and maintain biomass in the proposed wastewater process, this study seeks to understand the factors that contribute to successful granulation. Availability of initial inorganic nitrogen, particularly ammonium, was associated with successful cultivation of OPGs. In the first days of granulation, a decrease in ammonium coupled with an increase in a cyanobacterial-specific 16S rRNA gene, may suggest that ammonium was assimilated in cyanobacteria offering a competitive environment for growth. Though both successful and unsuccessful OPG formation demonstrated a shift from non-phototrophic bacterial dominated communities on day 0 to cyanobacterial dominated communities on day 42, the successful community had a greater relative abundance (46%) of OTUs associated with genera Oscillatoria and Geitlernema than the unsuccessful community (27%), supporting that filamentous cyanobacteria are essential for successful OPG formation. A greater concentration of chlorophyll b in the unsuccessful OPG formation suggested a greater abundance of algal species. This study offers indicators of granulation success, notably availability of inorganic nitrogen and chlorophyll a and b concentrations for monitoring the health and growth of biomass for a potential OPG process.
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Stauch-White, Kristie; Srinivasan, Varun N.; Kuo-Dahab, W. Camilla; Park, Chul; and Butler, Caitlyn S., "The role of inorganic nitrogen in successful formation of granular biofilms for wastewater treatment that support cyanobacteria and bacteria" (2017). AMB Express. 815.