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Microbial community dynamics during composting of sewage sludge and straw studied through phospholipid and neutral lipid analysis

Abstract : The composting process involves a succession of different communities of microorganisms that decompose the initial material, transforming it into a stable final product. In thiswork, the levels of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA), neutral lipid fatty acid (NLFA) and sterolwere monitored in compost versus time, as indicators of the activity of various microorganisms (Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria, fungi, etc.). During composting, the PLFA and NLFA from Gram-negative bacteria and eukaryotes (2-OH 10; 3-OH 12; 2-OH 14; 13:0; 16:1; 18:1 trans) aswell as some sterols of plant origin (e.g. monostearin sterols) decreased until the end of composting. In contrast, the branched fatty acids with iso- and anteiso-forms (i-15:0; a-15:0; i-16; i-17) increased mainly in the thermophilic phase, but decreased right after. The PLFA 18:2 (6;9), which is used as an index of the occurrence of some fungi, rose strongly at the beginning of composting, but fell after peak heating. In contrast, the other main sterol indicative of fungi, ergosterol, decreased at the beginning of the thermophilic phase, but increased strongly by the end of composting. Accordingly, cluster and PCA analysis separated the PLFA of Gram-negative bacteria and eukaryotic cells from those of Gram-positive bacteria and long-chain fatty acids. The fungal PLFA considered, 18:2 (9, 12), was clustered more closely to iso- and anteiso-branched PLFAs. Stigmasterol, squalene and cholesterol occurred in the lower right part of the loading plot and were clustered more closely to iso-, anteiso-branched PLFAs and 18:2w6,9 suggesting their relationship to microbial activities. We also observed the tendency of resistance of fatty acid PLFAs and NLFAs of long chain (19:0 (cis-9); 20:0) and some recalcitrant sterols, e.g. sitosterol, at the end of composting. The presence of high levels of the latter in the final stage indicates their contribution to the structural stability of organic matter fractions. These recalcitrant components were more clustered and occurred in the lower right part of the loading plot.
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S Amir, G Merlina, E Pinelli, P Winterton, J.-C Revel, et al.. Microbial community dynamics during composting of sewage sludge and straw studied through phospholipid and neutral lipid analysis. Journal of Hazardous Materials, Elsevier, 2008, 159 (2-3), pp.593-601. ⟨10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.02.062⟩. ⟨hal-01184467⟩

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