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Water Res. 2009 Jun;43(11):2852-64. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.03.038. Epub 2009 Apr 5.

Temperature effects on glycogen accumulating organisms.

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  • 1UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Westvest 7, 2611 AX Delft, The Netherlands; Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands.


Glycogen accumulating organisms (GAO) compete for substrate with polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAO), which are the microorganisms responsible for the enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) in activated sludge wastewater treatment systems. This can lead to the deterioration of the EBPR process. In this paper, the long-term temperature effects on the anaerobic and aerobic stoichiometry and conversion rates on adapted enriched cultures of Competibacter (a known GAO) were evaluated from 10 to 40 degrees C. The anaerobic stoichiometry of Competibacter was constant from 15 to 35 degrees C, whereas the aerobic stoichiometry was insensitive to temperature changes from 10 to 30 degrees C. At 10 degrees C, likely due to the inhibition of the anaerobic conversions of Competibacter, a switch in the dominant bacterial population to an enriched Accumulibacter culture (a known PAO) was observed. At higher temperatures (35 and 40 degrees C), the aerobic processes limited the growth of Competibacter. Due to the inhibition or different steady-state (equilibrium) conditions reached at long-term by the metabolic conversions, the short- and long-term temperature dependencies of the anaerobic acetate uptake rate of Competibacter differed considerably between each other. Temperature coefficients for the various metabolic processes are derived, which can be used in activated sludge modeling. Like for PAO cultures: (i) the GAO metabolism appears oriented at restoring storage pools rather than fast microbial growth, and (ii) the aerobic growth rate of GAO seems to be a result of the difference between PHA consumption and PHA utilization for glycogen synthesis and maintenance. It appears that the proliferation of Competibacter in EBPR systems could be suppressed by adjusting the aerobic solids retention time while, aiming at obtaining highly enriched PAO cultures, EBPR lab-scale reactors could be operated at low temperature (e.g. 10 degrees C).

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