Analysis of Microbial Community Dynamics during the Acclimatization Period of a Membrane Bioreactor Treating Table Olive Processing Wastewater
Biological treatment of table olive processing wastewater (TOPW) may be problematic due to its high organic and polyphenolic compound content. Biomass acclimatization is a necessary, yet sensitive, stage for efficient TOPW biological treatment. Next-generation sequencing technologies can provide valuable insights into this critical process step. An aerobic membrane bioreactor (MBR) system, initially inoculated with municipal activated sludge, was acclimatized to treat TOPW. Operational stability and bioremediation efficiency were monitored for approx. three months, whereas microbial community dynamics and metabolic adaptation were assessed through metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis. A swift change was identified in both the prokaryotic and eukaryotic bio-community after introduction of TOPW in the MBR, and a new diverse bio-community was established. Thauera and Paracoccus spp. are dominant contributors to the metabolic activity of the stable bio-community, which resulted in over 90% and 85% removal efficiency of total organic carbon and total polyphenols, respectively. This is the first study assessing the microbial community dynamics in a well-defined MBR process treating TOPW, offering guidance in the start-up of large-scale applications.