An anaerobic enrichment culture was developed from an anoxic/anaerobic/aerobic activated sludge sequencing batch reactor using methyl ethyl ketoxime (MEKO), a potent nitrification inhibitor, as the sole carbon and energy source in the absence of molecular oxygen and nitrate. The enrichment culture was gradually fed decreasing amounts of biogenic organic compounds and increasing concentrations of MEKO over 23 days until the cultures metabolized the oxime as the sole carbon source; the cultures were maintained for an additional 41 days on MEKO alone. Turbidity stabilized at approximately 100 mg/l total suspended solids. Growth on selective media plates confirmed that the microorganisms were utilizing the MEKO as the sole carbon and energy source. The time frame required for growth indicated that the kinetics for MEKO degradation are slow. A batch test indicated that dissolved organic carbon decreased at a rate comparable to MEKO consumption, while sulfate was not consumed. The nature of the electron acceptor in anaerobic MEKO metabolism is unclear, but it is hypothesized that the MEKO is hydrolyzed intracellularly to form methyl ethyl ketone and hydroxylamine which serve as electron donor and electron acceptor, respectively.

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