Effects of N-acyl-homoserine lactones-based quorum sensing on biofilm formation, sludge characteristics, and bacterial community during the start-up of bioaugmented reactors.


Bioaugmentation is an effective technology for treating wastewater containing recalcitrant organic pollutants. However, it is restricted by several technical problems, including the difficult colonization and survival of the inoculated bacteria, and the time-consuming start-up process. Considering the important roles of quorum sensing (QS) in regulating microbial behaviors, this study investigated the effects of N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs)-based manipulation on the start-up of biofilm reactors bioaugmented with a pyridine-degrading strain Paracoccus sp. BW001. The results showed that, in the presence of two specific exogenous AHLs (C6-HSL and 3OC6-HSL), the biofilm formation process on carriers was significantly accelerated, producing thick and structured biofilms. The protein and polysaccharide contents of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and soluble microbial products (SMP) in sludge were also elevated, possibly due to the increased abundance of several EPS-producing bacterial genera. Specifically, the stability and complexity of protein structures were improved. Besides the reactor running time, the AHL-manipulation was proved to be the main factor that drove the shift of bacterial community structures in the reactors. The addition of exogenous AHLs significantly increased the succession rate of bacterial communities and decreased the bacterial alpha diversity. Most importantly, the final proportions of the inoculated strain BW001 were elevated by nearly 100% in both sludge and biofilm communities via the AHL-manipulation. These findings strongly elucidated that AHL-based QS was deeply involved in biofilm formation, sludge characteristics, and microbial community construction in bioaugmented reactors, providing a promising start-up strategy for bioaugmentation technology.