The effect of aromatic structure on the inhibition of acetoclastic methanogenesis in granular sludge

Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Gatze Lettinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Benzene derivatives are important constituents of certain effluents discharged by pulp and paper, petrochemical and chemical industries. The anaerobic treatment of these waste-waters can be limited due to methanogenic inhibition exerted by aromatic compounds. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of aromatic structure on acetoclastic methanogenic inhibition. The toxicity to acetoclastic methanogens was assayed in serum flasks utilizing granular sludge as inoculum. Among the monosubstituted benzenes, chlorobenzene, methoxybenzene and benzaldehyde were the most toxic with 50% inhibition occurring at concentrations of 3.4, 4.2 and 5.2 m m, respectively. In contrast, benzoate was the least inhibitory: concentrations up to 57.3 m m were non-toxic. In general, the toxicity of aromatic compounds increased with increasing length of aliphatic side-chains, increasing the number of alkyl or chlorine groups. The logarithm of the partition coefficient octanol/water (log P), an indicator of hydrophobicity, was observed to be positively correlated with the methanogenic inhibition. The results indicate that hydrophobicity is an important factor contributing to the high toxicity of the most inhibitory aromatic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-550
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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