The metallurgic wastewater generated from the processes of recovering precious metals from industrial wastes contains high concentrations of nitrogen compounds and salts. Biological nitrogen removal from this wastewater was attempted using a circulating bioreactor system equipped with an anaerobic packed bed or an anaerobic fluidized bed. The denitrification capability of the system with the anaerobic packed bed was more stable than that of the system with the anaerobic fluidized bed. The NOx removal rate of the anaerobic packed bed was as high as 97%. Microbial community analysis by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) fragments and the cultivation method revealed that the community diversity varied in accordance with wastewater composition such as the level of salinity and so on. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that the taxonomic affiliation of the dominant species in the anaerobic reactors was to the γ-Proteobacteria including Halomonadaceae species. The PCR-DGGE method as a non-cultivation method was found to be a powerful tool for analysis of the microbial community, because the cultivation method could detect only a fraction of the microbial species present in these systems. The genetic diversity of the isolated bacteria belonging to the γ-Proteobacteria which reduced both nitrate and nitrite in the anaerobic packed bed was higher than that of the bacteria in the anaerobic fluidized bed. This suggested that a genetically diverse microbial community stabilized the denitrifying performance in the anaerobic packed bed.
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