Effect of biomass concentration on methane oxidation activity using mature compost and graphite granules as substrata



Publication Details

Xie, S., O'Dwyer, T., Freguia, S., Pikaar, I. & Clarke, W. P. (2016). Effect of biomass concentration on methane oxidation activity using mature compost and graphite granules as substrata. Waste Management, 56 290-297.


Reported methane oxidation activity (MOA) varies widely for common landfill cover materials. Variation is expected due to differences in surface area, the composition of the substratum and culturing conditions. MOA per methanotrophic cell has been calculated in the study of natural systems such as lake sediments to examine the inherent conditions for methanotrophic activity. In this study, biomass normalised MOA (i.e., MOA per methanotophic cell) was measured on stabilised compost, a commonly used cover in landfills, and on graphite granules, an inert substratum widely used in microbial electrosynthesis studies. After initially enriching methanotrophs on both substrata, biomass normalised MOA was quantified under excess oxygen and limiting methane conditions in 160 ml serum vials on both substrata and blends of the substrata. Biomass concentration was measured using the bicinchoninic acid assay for microbial protein. The biomass normalised MOA was consistent across all compost-to-graphite granules blends, but varied with time, reflecting the growth phase of the microorganisms. The biomass normalised MOA ranged from 0.069 ± 0.006 μmol CH4/mg dry biomass/h during active growth, to 0.024 ± 0.001 μmol CH4/mg dry biomass/h for established biofilms regardless of the substrata employed, indicating the substrata were equally effective in terms of inherent composition. The correlation of MOA with biomass is consistent with studies on methanotrophic activity in natural systems, but biomass normalised MOA varies by over 5 orders of magnitude between studies. This is partially due to different methods being used to quantify biomass, such as pmoA gene quantification and the culture dependent Most Probable Number method, but also indicates that long term exposure of materials to a supply of methane in an aerobic environment, as can occur in natural systems, leads to the enrichment and adaptation of types suitable for those conditions.

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