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Effect of the Inoculum-to-Substrate Ratio on Putative Pathogens and Microbial Kinetics during the Batch Anaerobic Digestion of Simulated Food Waste

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number603
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/03/2024
Issue number3
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The effects of the inoculum (anaerobic digestion effluent) to substrate (simulated food waste) ratio (ISR) 4.00 to 0.25 on putative pathogens and microbial kinetics during batch mesophilic anaerobic digestion were investigated. Red fluorescent protein labelled (RFPAKN132) Escherichia coli JM105 was introduced as a marker species, and together with the indigenous Clostridium sp., Enterococcus sp., Escherichia coli, and total coliforms were used to monitor pathogen death kinetics. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was also used to estimate the bacterial, fungal, and methanogenic gene copies. All the ISRs eliminated E. coli and other coliforms (4 log10 CFU/mL), but ISR 0.25 achieved this within the shortest time (≤2 days), while ISR 1.00 initially supported pathogen proliferation. Up to 1.5 log10 CFU/mL of Clostridium was reduced by acidogenic conditions (ISR 0.25 and 0.50), while Enterococcus species were resistant to the digestion conditions. Fungal DNA was reduced (≥5 log10 copies/mL) and was undetectable in ISRs 4.00, 2.00, and 0.50 at the end of the incubation period. This study has demonstrated that ISR influenced the pH of the digesters during batch mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and that acidic and alkaline conditions achieved by the lower (0.50 and 0.25) and higher (4.00 and 2.00) ISRs, respectively, were critical to the sanitisation of waste.