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DOI: 10.4137/MBI.S33593; PubMed PMID: 27127410; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4841157
Anaerobic digestion (AD) involves a consortium of microorganisms that convert substrates into biogas containing methane for renewable energy. The technology has suffered from the perception of being periodically unstable due to limited understanding of the relationship between microbial community structure and function. The emphasis of this review is to describe microbial communities in digesters and quantitative and qualitative relationships between community structure and digester function. Progress has been made in the past few decades to identify key microorganisms influencing AD. Yet, more work is required to realize robust, quantitative relationships between microbial community structure and functions such as methane production rate and resilience after perturbations. Other promising areas of research for improved AD may include methods to increase/control (1) hydrolysis rate, (2) direct interspecies electron transfer to methanogens, (3) community structure–function relationships of methanogens, (4) methanogenesis via acetate oxidation, and (5) bioaugmentation to study community–activity relationships or improve engineered bioprocesses.
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