Inhibition of anaerobic digestion (AD) due to perturbation caused by substrate composition and/or operating conditions can significantly reduce performance. Such perturbations could be limited by elucidating microbial community response to inhibitors and devising strategies to increase community resilience. To this end, advanced molecular methods are increasingly being applied to study the AD microbiome, a diverse community of microbial populations with complex interactions. This literature review of AD inhibition studies indicates that inhibitory concentrations are highly variable, likely stemming from differences in community structure or activity profile and previous exposure to inhibitors. More recent molecular methods such as ‘omics’ tools, substrate mapping, and real-time sequencing are helping to unravel the complexity of AD inhibition by elucidating physiological and ecological significance of key microbial populations. The AD community must strive towards developing predictive abilities to avoid system failure (e.g., real-time tracking of an indicator species) to improve resilience of AD systems.
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