Open Access

Effect of N:P Ratio on Microalgae/Nitrifying Bacteria Community in Agro-Digestate Treatment

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Environmental and Climate Technologies
SPECIAL ISSUE OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE TECHNOLOGIES PART I: The Green Deal Umbrella for Environmental and Climate Technologies


The role of P content on the treatment and valorization of the liquid fraction of digestate, namely centrate, through microalgae-based technologies was evaluated in this study. The performance of four column photobioreactors, which were fed on diluted centrate with corrected (10 mg N/ mg P) and not modified (129 mg N/ mg P) N:P ratio, were monitored and compared. The results demonstrated that P shortage in the centrate affected neither the total nitrogen and COD removal rate nor the volumetric biomass productivity, suggesting that expensive addition of P salts is not necessary to maximize the efficiency of the process. On the contrary, the addition of P to the centrate promoted the ammonia oxidation process as higher nitrite production was observed in the photobioreactors with adjusted N:P ratio than in the ones fed with the non-adjusted N:P ratio. These findings were confirmed by fluorescence in-situ hybridization and quantitative PCR assays, which revealed a higher number of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in the microalgal suspensions cultivated on centrate with P addition. In conclusion, the N:P ratio in the centrate seems to have a role in controlling the nitrification process rather than in the overall nutrient removal rate and biomass productivity of the microalgae-based system.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, other