Aims: To determine the microbial succession of the dominating taxa and functional groups of microorganisms and the total microbial activity during the composting of biowaste in a monitored process. Methods and Results: Biowaste (vegetable, fruit and garden waste) was composted in a monitored composting bin system. During the process, taxonomic and functional subpopulations of microorganisms were enumerated, and dominating colonies were isolated and identified. All counts decreased during the thermophilic phase of the composting, but increased again when the temperature declined. Total microbial activity, measured with an enzyme activity assay, decreased during the thermophilic phase, increased substantially thereafter, and decreased again during maturation. Bacteria dominated during the thermophilic phase while fungi, streptomycetes and yeasts were below the detection limit. Different bacterial populations were found in the thermophilic and mesophilic phases. In fresh wastes and during the peak‐heating phase, all bacterial isolates were bacilli. During the cooling and maturation phase the bacterial diversity increased, including also other Gram‐positive and Gram‐negative bacteria. Among the fungi, Aspergillus spp. and Mucor spp. were predominant after the thermophilic phase. Conclusions: The microbial abundance, composition and activity changed substantially during composting and compost maturity was correlated with high microbial diversity and low activity. Significance and Impact of the Study: A more complete overview of the whole composting process of biowaste, based on microbial counts, species diversity and functional groups and abiotic parameters is presented, and the potential of a simple enzyme assay to measure total microbial activity was demonstrated.
Journal of Applied Microbiology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2003
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