Microbial ecology in selenate-reducing biofilm communities: Rare biosphere and their interactions with abundant phylotypes

Diego A. Esquivel-Hernández, Jonathan S. García-Pérez, Xiaoyin Xu, Sanya Metha, Juan Maldonado, Siqing Xia, He Ping Zhao, Bruce E. Rittmann, Aura Ontiveros-Valencia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Selenate (SeO42−) reduction in hydrogen (H2)-fed membrane biofilm reactors (H2-MBfRs) was studied in combinations with other common electron acceptors. We employed H2-MBfRs with two distinctly different conditions: R1, with ample electron-donor availability and acceptors SeO42− and sulfate (SO42−), and R2, with electron-donor limitation and the presence of electron acceptors SeO42−, nitrate (NO3), and SO42−. Even though H2 was available to reduce all input SeO42− and SO42− in R1, SeO42− reduction was preferred over SO42− reduction. In R2, co-reduction of NO3 and SeO42− occurred, and SO42− reduction was mostly suppressed. Biofilms in all MBfRs had high microbial diversity that was influenced by the “rare biosphere” (RB), phylotypes with relative abundance less than 1%. While all MBfR biofilms had abundant members, such as Dechloromonas and Methyloversatilis, the bacterial communities were significantly different between R1 and R2. For R1, abundant genera were Methyloversatilis, Melioribacter, and Propionivibrio; for R2, abundant genera were Dechloromonas, Hydrogenophaga, Cystobacter, Methyloversatilis, and Thauera. Although changes in electron-acceptor or -donor loading altered the phylogenetic structure of the microbial communities, the biofilm communities were resilient in terms of SeO42− and NO3 reductions, because interacting members of the RB had the capacity of respiring these electron acceptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2460-2471
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and bioengineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • biofilm communities
  • ecological networks
  • rare biosphere
  • selenate
  • systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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