J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol 47(12) , 1031-1044 (Dec 2020)
The properties of digestates generated through anaerobic digestion are influenced by interactions between the digester microbial communities, feedstock properties and digester operating conditions. This study investigated the effect of varying initial feedstock carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratios on digestate microbiota and predicted abundance of genes encoding lignocellulolytic activity. The C/N ratio had a significant impact on the digestate microbiome. Feedstocks with intermediate C/N ratio (20-27) (where higher biomethane potential was observed) showed higher relative abundance of archaea compared to feedstocks with C/N ratios at 17 and 34. Within microbial networks, four microbial clusters and eight connector microorganisms changed significantly with the C/N ratio (P < 0.05). Feedstocks with C/N < 23 were richer in organisms from the family Thermotogaceae and genus Caldicoprobacter and enhanced potential for degradation of maltose, galactomannans, melobiose and lactose. This study provides new insights into how anaerobic digestion conditions relate to the structure and functional potential of digester microbial communities, which may be relevant to both digester performance and subsequent utilization of digestates for composting or amending soil.