Metabolic-activity of pathogenic bacteria during semicontinuous anaerobic-digestion

T.E. Kearney, Mike Larkin, P.N. Levett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In natural environments such as anaerobic digesters, bacteria are frequently subjected to the stress of nutrient fluxes because of the continual changes in the flow of nutrients, and to survive, they must be capable of adapting readily to nutrient changes. In this study, the metabolic activities of Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Yersinia enterocolitica, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter jejuni were studied within culture bags (Versapor-200 filters, 0.22-mu m pore size) in laboratory anaerobic digesters. The metabolic activity of these bacteria was indicated by their adenylate energy charge (EC) ratios and their ability to incorporate [H-3]thymidine, which was related to the respective changes in viable numbers within the culture bags during anaerobic digestion. Fluctuations in the adenylate EC ratios, the uptake of [H-3]thymidine, and the viable numbers of E. coli, S. typhimurium, Y. enterocolitica, and L. monocytogenes cells were probably due to constant changes in the amount of available nutrients within the anaerobic digesters. The viability of S. typhimurium increased quickly after a fresh supply of nutrients was added to the system as indicated by the uptake of [H-3]thymidine and an increase in the adenylate EC ratios. The viable numbers of E. coli, S. typhimurium, Y. enterocolitica, and L. monocytogenes organisms declined rapidly from 10(7) to 10(8) CFU/ml to 10(3) to 10(4) CFU/ml and remained at this level for an indefinite period. The decimal reduction time calculated during the period of exponential decline ranged from 0.8 to 1.2 days for these bacteria. C. jejuni had the greatest mean decimal reduction time value (3.6 days). This bacterium had adenylate EC ratios of less than 0.5 during anaerobic digestion, although the adenylate nucleotide concentrations in the cells were much greater than those in the other enteric cells. The results show that the enteric bacteria investigated probably exist in transient states between different stages of growth because of fluctuating nutrient levels during anaerobic digestion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3647-3652
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1994


Dive into the research topics of 'Metabolic-activity of pathogenic bacteria during semicontinuous anaerobic-digestion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this