This study quantified the kinetic differences in microbial communities isolated from completely mixed activated sludge (CMAS) systems that were operated either with or without an aerobic selector preceding the main reactor. A new respirometric method was employed that allowed the determination of biodegradation kinetics from single oxygen consumption curves, thereby minimizing physiological changes to the examined communities during the assay. Results indicated that increased values for Ks and μmax for acetate, phenol, and 4-chlorophenol degradation were measured in the CMAS system operated with a selector. The biomass yields on acetate, phenol, and 4-chlorophenol were very similar in both systems. These findings indicate that the operation of CMAS systems with aerobic selectors may result in the selection for degrading populations with higher Ks and μmax values for both biogenic and xenobiotic organic compounds, and that substrate storage in the selector only partially contributes to increased substrate removal rates.

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