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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Development of compost maturity and Actinobacteria populations during full-scale composting of organic household waste

Steger K, Sjogren AM, Jarvis A, Jansson JK, Sundh I

Abstract

Aims: This study investigates changes in microbiological and physicochemical parameters during large-scale, thermophilic composting of a single batch of municipal organic waste. The inter-relationships between the microbial biomass and community structure as well as several physicochemical parameters and estimates of maturation were evaluated. Methods and Results: Analyses of signature fatty acids with the phospholipid fatty acid and ester-linked methods showed that the total microbial biomass was highest during the early thermophilic phase. The contribution of signature 10Me fatty acids from Actinobacteria indicated a relatively constant proportion around 10% of the microbial community. However, analyses of the Actinobacteria species composition with a PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis approach targeting 16S rRNA genes demonstrated clear shifts in the community structure. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that compost quality, particularly maturity, is linked to the composition of the microbial community structure, but further studies in other full-scale systems are needed to validate the generality of these findings. Significance and Impact of the Study: The combination of signature lipid and nucleic acid-based analyses greatly expands the specificity and the scope for assessing the microbial community composition in composts. The results presented in this study give new information on how the development of the compost microbial community is connected to curing and maturation in the later stages of composting, and emphasizes the role of Actinobacteria in this respect

Published in

Journal of Applied Microbiology
2007, Volume: 103, number: 2, pages: 487-498
Publisher: BLACKWELL PUBLISHING