Jun 1, 1976

Toxicity of ammonia to algae in sewage oxidation ponds

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
A Abeliovich, Y Azov


Ammonia, at concentrations over 2.0 mM and at pH values over 8.0, inhibits photosynthesis and growth of Scenedesmus obliquus, a dominant species in high-rate sewage oxidation ponds. Photosynthesis of Chlorella pyrenoidosa, Anacystis nidulans, and Plectonema boryanum is also susceptible to ammonia inhibition. Dark respiration and cell morphology were unaffected by any combination of pH and ammonia concentrations tested, thus limiting the apparent effect to inhibition of the normal function of the chloroplasts. Methylamine had the same effect as ammonia, and its penetration into the cells was found to be pH dependent. Therefore, the dependence of toxicity of amines to algae on pH apparently results from the inability to penetrate the cell membrane in the ionized form. When operated at 120-h detention time of raw wastewater, the high-rate oxidation pond maintained a steady state with respect to algal growth and oxygen concentration, and the concentration of ammonia did not exceed 1.0 mM. Shifting the pond to 48-h detention time caused an increase in ammonia concentration in the pond water to 2.5 mM, and the pond gradually turned anaerobic. Photosynthesis, which usually elevates the pH of the pond water to 9.0 to 10.0, could not pr...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Environmental Sludge
Carbon Dioxide
Dark Reactions of Photosynthesis
Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
Water Microbiology
Cell Membrane Permeability

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