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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Sep;69(9):5060-9.

Characterization of microbial communities and composition in constructed dairy wetland wastewater effluent.

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  • 1George E. Brown Jr. Salinity Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture--Agricultural Research Service, Riverside, California 92507, USA.


Constructed wetlands have been recognized as a removal treatment option for high concentrations of contaminants in agricultural waste before land application. The goal of this study was to characterize microbial composition in two constructed wetlands designed to remove contaminants from dairy washwater. Water samples were collected weekly for 11 months from two wetlands to determine the efficiency of the treatment system in removal of chemical contaminants and total and fecal coliforms. The reduction by the treatment was greatest for biological oxygen demand, suspended solids, chemical oxygen demand, nitrate, and coliforms. There was only moderate removal of total nitrogen and phosphorus. Changes in the total bacterial community and ammonia-oxidizing bacterial composition were examined by using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequencing of PCR-amplified fragments of the gene carrying the alpha subunit of the ammonia monooxygenase gene (amoA) recovered from soil samples and DGGE bands. DGGE analysis of wetlands and manure samples revealed that the total bacterial community composition was dominated by bacteria from phylogenetic clusters related to Bacillus, Clostridium, Mycoplasma, Eubacterium, and Proteobacteria originally retrieved from the gastrointestinal tracts of mammals. The population of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria showed a higher percentage of Nitrosospira-like sequences from the wetland samples, while a higher percentage of Nitrosomonas-like sequences from manure, feces, raw washwater, and facultative pond was found. These results show that the wetland system is a natural process dependent upon the development of healthy microbial communities for optimal wastewater treatment.

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