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Application, eco-physiology and biodiversity of anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria

  • Kartal, Boran1
  • van Niftrik, Laura2
  • Sliekers, Olav2
  • Schmid, Markus C.1, 2
  • Schmidt, Ingo1, 3
  • van de Pas-Schoonen, Katinka1
  • Cirpus, Irina2
  • van der Star, Wouter2
  • van Loosdrecht, Mark2
  • Abma, Wiebe4
  • Kuenen, J. Gijs2
  • Mulder, Jan-Willem5
  • Jetten, Mike S. M.1, 2
  • den Camp, Huub Op1
  • Strous, Marc1
  • van de Vossenberg, Jack1
  • 1 Radboud University Nijmegen, Department of Microbiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, , , ,, Toernooiveld 1, Nijmegen, ED, NL 6525, The Netherlands , Nijmegen
  • 2 TU Delft, Department of Biotechnology, Delft, BC, NL 2628 , Delft
  • 3 University of Bayreuth, Department of Microbiology, Germany
  • 4 Paques BV Balk, NL
  • 5 ZHEW, Dordrecht, NL , Dordrecht
Published Article
Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2004
DOI: 10.1007/s11157-004-7247-5
Springer Nature


The demand for new and sustainable systems for nitrogen removal has increased dramatically in the last decade. It is clear that the conventional systems cannot deal with the increasing nitrogen loads in a cost effective way. As an alternative, the implementation of the anammox (anaerobic ammonium oxidation) process in the treatment of wastewater with high ammonium concentrations has been started. The compact anammox reactors can sustain high nitrogen loads without any problems. The highest observed anammox capacity is 8.9 kg N removed m-3 reactor day-1. The first 75 m3 anammox reactor is operating in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, combined with the partial nitrification process Single reaction system for High Ammonium Removal Over Nitrite (SHARON). Partial nitrification and anammox can also be combined in one reactor systems like Completely Autotrophic Nitrogen removal Over Nitrite (CANON) or Oxygen Limited Ammonium removal via Nitrification Denitrification (OLAND) where aerobic ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and anammox bacteria cooperate under oxygen-limitation. These systems remove about 1.5 kg N m-3 reactor day-1. In addition to ammonium, urea can also be converted in the CANON system after a two-week adaptation period. The ecophysiological properties of the anammox bacteria make them very well suited to convert ammonium and nitrite. The Ks values for ammonium and nitrite are below 5 μM. However, nitrite above 10 mM is detrimental for the anammox process, and oxygen reversibly inhibits the process at concentrations as low as 1 μM. Acetate and propionate can be used by the anammox bacteria to convert nitrite and nitrate, whereas methanol and ethanol severely inhibit the anammox reaction. The enzyme hydroxylamine/hydrazine oxidoreductase (HAO), one of the key enzymes, is located in the anammoxosome, which is a membrane bound organelle. The membranes of the anammox bacteria contain unique ladderane lipids and hopanoids. The bacteria responsible for the anammox reaction are related to the Planctomycetes. The first anammox bacteria were isolated via Percoll centrifugation and characterized as Candidatus “Brocadia anammoxidans”. Survey of different wastewater treatment plants using anammox specific 16S rRNA gene primers and anammox specific oligonucleotide probes has revealed the presence of at least three other anammox bacteria, which have been tentatively named Candidatus “Kuenenia stuttgartiensis”, Candidatus “Scalindua wagneri” and Candidatus “Scalindua brodae”. A close relative of the latter, Candidatus “Scalindua sorokinii” was found to be responsible for about 50% of the nitrogen conversion in the anoxic zone of the Black Sea, making the anammox bacteria an important player in the oceanic nitrogen cycle.

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