Effects of heavy rare earth element (yttrium) on partial-nitritation process, bacterial activity and structure of responsible microbial communities.


Jiangxi University of Science and Technology, School of Resources & Environmental Engineering, Jiangxi Province, Ganzhou City 341000, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]


Yttrium (Y(III)) is mined commercially for industrial purposes due to its excellent physical properties. However, the effects of Y(III) in mining-wastewater on the performance of partial-nitritation process and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) have not been explored. To elucidate Y(III) effects on biological mechanisms, kinetics was conducted to establish a correlation between Y(III) dosage and specific-oxygen-uptake-rate (SOUR). The mechanism(s) demonstrated by bacterial population to resist against toxic effects from Y(III) dose was also investigated using scanning electron microscopy-(SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy-(EDS), confocal laser scanning microscopy-(CLSM),Fourier transform infrared-(FTIR) spectroscopy, and 2-dimensional correlation infrared-(2DCOS-IR) approach. The study revealed a strong correlation between ammonium oxidation rate (AOR) and Y(III) dosage. AOR promotion was more pronounced when Y(III) concentration was ≤20 mg/L (maximum AOR of 12.39 mgN/L/h, at 5 mg/L), whereas inhibition when Y(III) in influent was >20 mg/L (minimum AOR of 7.34 mgN/L/h, at 500 mg/L). Aiba model demonstrated high-performance (R2 = 0.962) when Y(III) concentration ranged 0-20 mg/L, whereas linear model fitted well (R2 of 0.984) to experimental data when Y(III) dose ranged 20-500 mg/L. The maximum change in SOUR (Vmax), half-rate constant (Km), and inhibition constant (Ki) reached 1.04 d-1, 20.12 mg/L, and 4.87 mg/L, respectively, an indication that dosage of Y(III) could affect the partial-nitritation process. SEM-EDS showed that the content of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) increased along with increasing Y(III) dosage. When 20 mg/L of Y(III) was dosed, the fraction of Y(III) within the surface elemental composition of the sludge increased gradually whereas that of calcium decreased. To further comprehend the EPS production, CLSM results further revealed β-polysaccharide as the dominant component in the EPS. FTIR/2DCOD-IR showed that the chelation of polyguluronic sections within β-polysaccharide, together with hydrazine might be the main pathways of cell resistance, but β- glucan, may have caused the hormesis.


Ammonia oxidizing bacteria,Extracellular polymeric substances,Partial nitritation process,Rare earth elements,Yttrium,