Document Type




Format of Original

10 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Water Research

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2014.11.037


Adding beneficial microorganisms to anaerobic digesters for improved performance (i.e. bioaugmentation) has been shown to decrease recovery time after organic overload or toxicity upset. Compared to strictly anaerobic cultures, adding aerotolerant methanogenic cultures may be more practical since they exhibit higher methanogenic activity and can be easily dried and stored in ambient air for future shipping and use. In this study, anaerobic digesters were bioaugmented with both anaerobic and aerated, methanogenic propionate enrichment cultures after a transient organic overload. Digesters bioaugmented with anaerobic and moderately aerated cultures recovered 25 and 100 days before non-bioaugmented digesters, respectively. Increased methane production due to bioaugmentation continued a long time, with 50–120% increases 6 to 12 SRTs (60–120 days) after overload. In contrast to the anaerobic enrichment, the aerated enrichments were more effective as bioaugmentation cultures, resulting in faster recovery of upset digester methane and COD removal rates. Sixty days after overload, the bioaugmented digester archaeal community was not shifted, but was restored to one similar to the pre-overload community. In contrast, non-bioaugmented digester archaeal communities before and after overload were significantly different. Organisms most similar to Methanospirillum hungatei had higher relative abundance in well-operating, undisturbed and bioaugmented digesters, whereas organisms similar to Methanolinea tarda were more abundant in upset, non-bioaugmented digesters. Bioaugmentation is a beneficial approach to increase digester recovery rate after transient organic overload events. Moderately aerated, methanogenic propionate enrichment cultures were more beneficial augments than a strictly anaerobic enrichment.


Accepted version. Water Research, Vol 70 (March 1, 2015): 138-147. DOI. © 2015 Elsevier. Used with permission.

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Water Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Water Research, Vol 70 (March 1, 2015): 138-147. DOI.