Nitrification as a source of soluble organic substrate in biological treatment

B. E. Rittmann, J. M. Regan, D. A. Stahl

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


In complex, multispecies populations, exchange of substrates can be an important beneficial interaction. Prior experimental and theoretical work has led to the hypothesis that the formation of soluble microbial products (SMP) by nitrifying bacteria can provide a supplementary organic substrate for heterotrophic bacteria, thereby augmenting their accumulation and stability, especially when inputs of organic substrates are low. In this study, chemostat experiments carried out with a NO2--oxidizing strain (Nitrobacter sp.) and an NH4+-oxidizing strain (Nitrosomonas europaea) demonstrated that both nitrifiers produce SMP that can support heterotrophic bacteria. The first evidence was the presence of significant concentrations of soluble COD in the chemostat effluent, even though the influent was free of organic compounds. Second, a small heterotrophic population was maintained, apparently through utilization of the nitrifier-produced SMP. A preliminary kinetic analysis suggested that SMP kinetic parameters can be adapted from parameters measured for heterotrophs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number6 pt 6
StatePublished - 1994
EventProceedings of the 17th Biennial Conference of the International Association on Water Quality. Part 1 - Budapest, Hung
Duration: Jul 24 1994Jul 30 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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