Nitrate removal under aerobic conditions was investigated using pure cultures of Paracoccus pantotrophus, which is a well-known aerobic-denitrifying (AD) bacterium. When a high concentration of cultures with a high carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio was preserved at the beginning of batch experiments, subsequently added nitrate was completely removed. When continuous culturing was perpetuated, a high nitrate removal rate (66.5%) was observed on day 4 post-culture, although gradual decreases in AD ability with time were observed. The attenuation in AD ability was probably caused by carbon limitation, because when carbon concentration of inflow water was doubled, nitrate removal efficiency improved from 18.1% to 59.6%. Bacterial community analysis using the polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) method showed that P. pantotrophus disappeared in the suspended medium on day 8 post-culture, whereas other bacterial communities dominated by Acidovorax sp. appeared. Interestingly, this replaced bacterial community also showed AD ability. As P. pantotrophus was detected as attached colonies around the membrane and bottom of the reactor, this bacterium can therefore be introduced in a fixed form for treatment of wastewater containing nitrate with a high C/N ratio.

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