Hydrolysis and microbial community analyses in two-stage anaerobic digestion of energy crops

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims: The roles of the diverse populations of micro-organisms responsible for biodegradation of organic matter to form methane and carbon dioxide are rudimentarily understood. To expand the knowledge on links between microbial communities and the rate limiting, hydrolytic stage of two-stage biogas production from energy crops, this study was performed. Methods and Results: The process performance. and microbial communities (as determined by fluorescence in situ hybridization) in two separate two-stage batch digestions of sugar beets and grass/clover were studied. The microbial populations developed in the hydrolytic stage of anaerobic digestion of beets and grass/clover showed very few similarities, despite that the hydrolysis dynamics were similar. In both substrates, the solubilization of organic material was rapid for the first 10 days and accompanied by a build-up of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and lactate. Between days 10 and 15, VFA and lactate concentrations decreased, as did the solubilization rates. For both substrates, Archaea started to appear in the hydrolytic stage between days 10 and 15, and the fraction of Bacteria decreased. The major bacterial group detected in the leachate fraction for beets was Alphaproteobacteria, whereas for grass/clover it was Firmicutes. The number of cells that bound to probes specifically targeting bacteria with cellulolytic activity was higher in the digestion of grass than in the digestion of beet. Conclusions: This study allowed the identification of the general bacterial groups involved, and the identification of a clear shift in the microbial population when hydrolysis rate became limiting for each of the substrates investigated. Significance and Impact of the Study: The findings from this study could be considered as a first step towards the development of strategies to stimulate hydrolysis further and ultimately increasing the methane production rates and yields from reactor-based digestion of these substrates.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Industrial Biotechnology


  • fluorescence in situ hybridization, energy crops, biogas, cellulolytic, hydrolysis, microbial community
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-527
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch