The metallurgic wastewater generated from the processes of recovering precious metals from industrial wastes contains high concentrations of nitrogen compounds such as ammonia and nitric acid and of salts such as sodium chloride and sodium sulfate. Biological nitrogen removal from this wastewater was attempted by a circulating bioreactor system equipped with an anoxic packed bed and an aerobic fluidized bed. The anoxic packed bed of this system was found to effectively remove nitrite and nitrate from the wastewater by denitrification at a removal ratio of 97%. As a result of denitrification activity tests at various NaCl concentrations, the sludge obtained from the anoxic packed bed exhibited accumulation of nitrite at 5.0 and 8.4% NaCl concentrations, suggesting that the reduction of nitrite is the key step in the denitrification pathway under hypersaline conditions. The microbial community analysis by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) fragments revealed that the community diversity varied in accordance with water temperature, nitrate-loading rate and ionic strength. When particular major DGGE bands were excised, reamplified and directly sequenced, the dominant species in the anoxic packed bed were affiliated with the beta and gamma subclasses of the class Proteobacteria such as Alcaligenes defragrans and Pseudomonas spp., respectively.

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