Microalgae biomethanization is driven by anaerobic sludge associated microorganisms and is generally limited by the incomplete hydrolysis of the microalgae cell wall, which results in a low availability of microalgal biomass for the methanogenic community. The application of enzymatic pretreatments, e.g., with hydrolytic enzymes, is among the strategies used to work around the incomplete hydrolysis of the microalgae cell wall. Despite the proven efficacy of these pretreatments in increasing biomethanization, the changes that a given pretreatment may cause to the anaerobic sludge associated microorganisms during biomethanization are still unknown. This study evaluated the changes in the expression of the metatranscriptome of anaerobic sludge associated microorganisms during Chlorella sorokiniana biomethanization without pretreatment (WP) (control) and pretreated with commercial cellulase in order to increase the solubilization of the microalgal organic matter. Pretreated microalgal biomass experienced significant increases in biogas the production. The metatranscriptomic analysis of control samples showed functionally active microalgae cells, a bacterial community dominated by γ- and δ-proteobacteria, and a methanogenic community dominated by Methanospirillum hungatei. In contrast, pretreated samples were characterized by the absence of active microalgae cells and a bacteria population dominated by species of the Clostridia class. These differences are also related to the differential activation of metabolic pathways e.g., those associated with the degradation of organic matter during its biomethanization.
- Enzymatic pretreatment