an official journal of: published by:
Editor in Chief: RAFFAELLO COSSU


  • Karen Ruth Little - Chemistry, Monash University, Australia
  • Han Ming Gan - Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Australia
  • Aravind Surapaneni - South East Water Ltd, Australia
  • Jonathan Schmidt - South East Water Ltd, Australia
  • Antonio Frank Patti - School of Chemistry, Monash University, Australia

DOI 10.31025/2611-4135/2020.13914

Released under CC BY-NC-ND

Copyright: © 2019 CISA Publisher

Editorial History

  • Received: 11 Aug 2019
  • Revised: 23 Jan 2020
  • Accepted: 27 Jan 2020
  • Available online: 05 Mar 2020


Sewage sludge, often referred to as biosolids, is generated in large quantities by wastewater treatment plants. It contains macro- and micronutrients which are essential for plant growth and so represents a valuable agricultural resource. Prior to land application, pathogens are carefully monitored to reduce the risk of crop and soil contamination however to date there has been limited investigation of agriculturally beneficial bacteria indigenous to the biosolids. This study investigated shifts in the composition of the bacterial community alongside the physicochemical properties of biosolids of increasing age, from freshly dewatered to those stockpiled for approximately four years. With stockpiling, there was a significant increase in ammonium content, ranging from 801 mg/kg in the fresh biosolids to 8178 mg/kg in the stockpiled biosolids and a corresponding increase in pH ranging from 6.93 to 8.21. We detected a ten-fold increase in Firmicutes, from 4% relative abundance in the fresh biosolids compared to 40% in the older, stockpiled biosolids. Plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) of the Proteobacteria family, particularly of the Devosia and Bradyrhizobium genera were identified in the freshly dewatered and the older, stockpiled biosolids. Land application of the biosolids studied here could reduce fertiliser costs, provide a means of pH correction to acidic soils and a potential source of bacteria beneficial for crop growth.



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