Dynamics of propionic acid degradation in a two-phase anaerobic system

Keke Xiao, Yan Zhou, Chenghong Guo*, Yogananda Maspolim, Wun Jern Ng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This paper reports on propionic acid (HPr) degradation in a laboratory scale two-phase anaerobic system, where HPr was accumulated in the acidogenic reactor and degraded in the methanogenic reactor. Batch tests using biomass from the two-phase anaerobic system showed HPr degradation was rarely detectable in the acidogenic reactor when HPr concentration ranged from 639 to 4531mgHPrL-1 and at pH 4.50 to 6.50. Biomass from the methanogenic reactor could, however, successfully degrade HPr at its initial concentration of up to 4585 mgHPrL-1 at pH 6.40-7.30. ATP results showed that differences in the degradation ability of HPr by the acidogenic and methanogenic biomass may be related with their respective different biomass activities. Results from pyrosequencing showed that the predominant propionic acid oxidizing bacteria (POB) in the methanogenic reactor were Smithella (2.68%) and Syntrophobacter (0.35%); while poor degradation of HPr in the acidogenic reactor may be associated with the low abundance of POB (0.02% Desulfacinum and 0.08% Desulfobulbus). This might have been induced by the long-term unfavorable environment for POB growth in the acidogenic reactor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Propionic acid
  • Propionic acid oxidizing bacteria
  • Pyrosequencing
  • Two-phase anaerobic system


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