Urine bacterial community convergence through fertilizer production:storage, pasteurization, and struvite precipitation.



Citation:

Lahr RH, Goetsch HE, Haig SJ, Noe-Hays A, Love NG, Aga DS, Bott CB, Foxman B, Jimenez J, Luo T, Nace K, Ramadugu K, Wigginton KR. Urine bacterial community convergence through fertilizer production:storage, pasteurization, and struvite precipitation. Environmental Science & Technology 2016;50(21):11619-11626.

Abstract:

Source-separated human urine was collected from six public events to study the impact of urine processing and storage on bacterial community composition and viability. Illumina 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed a complex community of bacteria in fresh urine that differed across collection events. Despite the harsh chemical conditions of stored urine (pH > 9 and total ammonia nitrogen > 4000 mg N/L), bacteria consistently grew to 5 ± 2 × 108 cells/mL. Storing hydrolyzed urine for any amount of time significantly reduced the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) to 130 ± 70, increased Pielou evenness to 0.60 ± 0.06, and produced communities dominated by Clostridiales and Lactobacillales. After 80 days of storage, all six urine samples from different starting materials converged to these characteristics. Urine pasteurization or struvite precipitation did not change the microbial community, even when pasteurized urine was stored for an additional 70 days. Pasteurization decreased metabolic activity by 50 ± 10% and additional storage after pasteurization did not lead to recovery of metabolic activity. Urine-derived fertilizers consistently contained 16S rRNA genes belonging to Tissierella, Erysipelothrix, Atopostipes, Bacteroides, and many Clostridiales OTUs; additional experiments must determine whether pathogenic species are present, responsible for observed metabolic activity, or regrow when applied.