Molecular microbiology tools (i.e., 16S rDNA gene sequencing) were employed to elucidate changes in the microbial community structure according to the total electron acceptor loading (controlled by influent flow rate and/or medium composition) in a H2-based membrane biofilm reactor evaluated for removal of hexavalent uranium. Once nitrate, sulfate, and dissolved oxygen were replaced by U(VI) and bicarbonate and the total acceptor loading was lowered, slow-growing bacteria capable of reducing U(VI) to U(IV) dominated in the biofilm community: Replacing denitrifying bacteria Rhodocyclales and Burkholderiales were spore-producing Clostridiales and Natranaerobiales. Though potentially competing for electrons with U(VI) reducers, homo-acetogens helped attain steady U(VI) reduction, while methanogenesis inhibited U(VI) reduction. U(VI) reduction was reinstated through suppression of methanogenesis by addition of bromoethanesulfonate or by competition from SRB when sulfate was re-introduced. Predictive metagenome analysis further points out community changes in response to alterations in the electron-acceptor loading: Sporulation and homo-acetogenesis were critical factors for strengthening stable microbial U(VI) reduction. This study documents that sporulation was important to long-term U(VI) reduction, whether or not microorganisms that carry out U(VI) reduction mediated by cytochrome c3, such as SRB and ferric-iron-reducers, were inhibited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-349
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - 2017


  • Acceptor loadings
  • Homoacetogens
  • Methanogens
  • Spore-forming microorganisms
  • Sulfate reducers
  • Uranium reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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