Effects of Hydraulic Retention Time and Influent Nitrate-N Concentration on Nitrogen Removal and the Microbial Community of an Aerobic Denitrification Reactor Treating Recirculating Marine Aquaculture System Effluent
The effects of hydraulic retention time (HRT) and influent nitrate-N concentration on nitrogen removal and the microbial community composition of an aerobic denitrification reactor treating recirculating marine aquaculture system effluent were evaluated. Results showed that over 98% of nitrogen was removed and ammonia-N and nitrite-N levels were below 1 mg/L when influent nitrate-N was below 150 mg/L and HRT over 5 h. The maximum nitrogen removal efficiency and nitrogen removal rate were observed at HRT of 6 or 7 h when influent nitrate-N was 150 mg/L. High-throughput DNA sequencing analysis revealed that the microbial phyla Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were predominant in the reactor, with an average relative total abundance above 70%. The relative abundance of denitrifying bacteria of genera Halomonas and Denitratisoma within the reactor decreased with increasing influent nitrate-N concentrations. Our results show the presence of an aerobically denitrifying microbial consortium with both expected and unexpected members, many of them relatively new to science. Our findings provide insights into the biological workings and inform the design and operation of denitrifying reactors for marine aquaculture systems.