Water contamination by nitrate is a wideworld extended phenomena. Biological autotrophic denitrification has a real potential to face this problem and presents less drawbacks than the most extended heterotrophic denitrification. Three bench-scale UASB reactors were operated under autotrophic (R1, H2S as electron donor), mixotrophic (R2, H2S plus p-cresol as electron donors) and heterotrophic (R3, p-cresol as electron donor) conditions using nitrate as terminal electron acceptor. 16S rDNA genetic libraries were built up to compare their microbial biodiversity. Six different bacteria phyla and three archaeal classes were observed. Proteobacteria was the main phyla in all reactors standing out the presence of denitrifiers. Microorganisms similar to Thiobacillus denitrificans and Acidovorax sp. performed the autotrophic denitification. These OTUs were displaced by chemoheterotrophic denitrifiers, especially by Limnobacter-like and Ottowia-like OTUs. Other phyla were Bacteroidetes, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria that - as well as Archaea members - were implicated in the degradation of organic matter, as substrate added as coming from endogenous sludge decay under autotrophic conditions. Archaea diversity remained low in all the reactors being Methanosaeta concilii the most abundant one.

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