Send to

Choose Destination
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 May;75(1):211-21. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Real-time PCR assay for the simultaneous quantification of nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria in activated sludge.

Author information

Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, Ghent, Belgium.


In order to improve wastewater treatment processes, a need exists for tools that rapidly give detailed insight into the community structure of activated sludge, supplementary to chemical and physical data. In this study, the advantages of microarrays and quantitative polymerase chin reaction (PCR) methods were combined into a real-time PCR assay that allows the simultaneous quantification of phylogenetic and functional genes involved in nitrification and denitrification processes. Simultaneous quantification was possible along a 5-log dynamic range and with high linear correlation (R (2) > 0.98). The specificity of the assay was confirmed by cloning and sequencing analyses of PCR amplicons obtained from activated sludge. The real-time assay was validated on mixed liquid samples of different treatment plants, which varied in nitrogen removal rate. The abundance of ammonia oxidizers was in the order of magnitude of 10(6) down to 10(4) ml(-1), whereas nitrite oxidizers were less abundant (10(3)-10(1) order of magnitude). The results were in correspondence with the nitrite oxidation rate in the sludge types. As for the nirS, nirK, and nosZ gene copy numbers, their abundance was generally in the order of magnitude of 10(8)-10(5). When sludge samples were subjected to lab-scale perturbations, a decrease in nitrification rate was reflected within 18 h in the copy numbers of nitrifier genes (decrease with 1 to 5 log units), whereas denitrification genes remained rather unaffected. These results demonstrate that the method is a fast and accurate tool for the analysis of the (de)nitrifying community structure and size in both natural and engineered environmental samples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center