Heterotrophic denitrification: An overlooked factor that contributes to nitrogen removal in n-DAMO mixed culture

Xu Guo, Chun Yu Lai, Erica M. Hartmann, He Ping Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitrate/nitrite-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation (n-DAMO) has been recognized as a sustainable process for simultaneous removal of nitrogen and methane. The metabolisms of denitrifying anaerobic methanotrophs, including Candidatus Methanoperedens and Candidatus Methylomirabilis, have been well studied. However, potential roles of heterotrophs co-existing with these anaerobic methanotrophs are generally overlooked. In this study, we pulse-fed methane and nitrate into an anaerobic laboratory sequencing batch bioreactor and enriched a mixed culture with stable nitrate removal rate (NRR) of ∼28 mg NO3-N L−1 d−1. Microbial community analysis indicates abundant heterotrophs, e.g., Arenimonas (5.3%–18.9%) and Fimbriimonadales ATM1 (6.4%), were enriched together with denitrifying anaerobic methanotrophs Ca. Methanoperedens (10.8%–13.2%) and Ca. Methylomirabilis (27.4%–34.3%). The results of metagenomics and batch tests suggested that the denitrifying anaerobic methanotrophs were capable of generating methane-derived intermediates (i.e., formate and acetate), which were employed by non-methanotrophic heterotrophs for denitrification and biomass growth. These findings offer new insights into the roles of heterotrophs in n-DAMO mixed culture, which may help to optimize n-DAMO process for nitrogen removal from wastewater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114802
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Heterotrophic denitrification
  • Metagenomics
  • Methane
  • Syntrophy
  • n-DAMO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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