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Water Science & Technology Vol 68 No 1 pp 43–49 © IWA Publishing 2013 doi:10.2166/wst.2013.178

Effect of earthworm loads on organic matter and nutrient removal efficiencies in synthetic domestic wastewater, and on bacterial community structure and diversity in vermifiltration

L. M. Wang, X. Z. Luo, Y. M. Zhang, J. J. Lian, Y. X. Gao and Z. Zheng

Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Environmental Protection, No. 8, Jiang Wang Miao Street, Nanjing 210042, China E-mail: wlmian@sina.com
Environmental Science and Engineering Department, Fudan University, No. 220, Handan Road, Shanghai 200433, China


ABSTRACT

In this paper, we studied the effect of earthworm loads on the removal rates of chemical oxygen demand (COD), ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N), total nitrogen, and total phosphorus from synthetic domestic sewage and on the bacterial community structure and diversity of substrates in earthworm packing beds. The different vermifiltrations (VFs), including the control, are successful in removing both organic matter (OM) and nutrients. The removal rate of NH3-N at 12.5 g of earthworm/L of soil VF is higher compared with that at 0 and 4.5 earthworm load VFs. The highest Shannon index, in the earthworm packing bed, occurred at 16.5 earthworm load VF. Furthermore, the COD removal rate is significantly correlated with the Shannon index, which reveals that OM removal for synthetic domestic sewage treatment at VF might be more dependent on bacterial diversity at the earthworm packing bed. The band distributions and diversities of the bacterial community for samples from different earthworm loads in VFs suggest that the bacterial community structure was only affected within the earthworm packing bed when the earthworm load reached a certain level. The present study adds to the current understanding of OM and nutrient degradation processes in VF domestic wastewater treatment.

Keywords: chemical oxygen demand; nitrogen; polymerase chain reaction–denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; vermifilter; wormcast


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