Microalgal-bacteria consortia application on wastewater treatment has been widely studied, but a deeper comprehension of consortium interactions is still lacking. In particular, mixotrophic exploitation of organic compounds by microalgae affects gas (CO2 and O2) exchange between microalgae and bacteria, but it is not clear how environmental conditions may regulate algal metabolism. Using a respirometric-based protocol, we evaluated the combined effect of organic carbon and light intensity on oxygen production and consumption by C. protothecoides, and found that the chemical oxygen demand (COD) was not consumed when incident light increased. Batch experiments under different incident lights, with C. protothecoides alone and in consortium with activated sludge bacteria, confirmed the results obtained by respirometry. Continuous system experiments testing the combined effects of light intensity and residence time confirmed that, under limiting light, mixotrophy is preferred by C. protothecoides, and the nutrient (COD, N, P) removal capability of the consortium is enhanced.

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