This study investigated methanogenic communities involved in degradation of tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) in three full-scale bioreactors treating TMAH-containing wastewater. Based on the results of terminal-restriction fragment-length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and quantitative PCR analyses targeting the methyl-coenzyme M reductase alpha subunit (mcrA) genes retrieved from three bioreactors, Methanomethylovorans and Methanosarcina were the dominant methanogens involved in the methanogenic degradation of TMAH in the bioreactors. Furthermore, batch experiments were conducted to evaluate mcrA messenger RNA (mRNA) expression during methanogenic TMAH degradation, and the results indicated that a higher level of TMAH favored mcrA mRNA expression by Methansarcina, while Methanomethylovorans could only express considerable amount of mcrA mRNA at a lower level of TMAH. These results suggest that Methansarcina is responsible for methanogenic TMAH degradation at higher TMAH concentrations, while Methanomethylovorans may be important at a lower TMAH condition.
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