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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Sep;73(18):5865-74. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

"Candidatus Accumulibacter" population structure in enhanced biological phosphorus removal sludges as revealed by polyphosphate kinase genes.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


We investigated the fine-scale population structure of the "Candidatus Accumulibacter" lineage in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems using the polyphosphate kinase 1 gene (ppk1) as a genetic marker. We retrieved fragments of "Candidatus Accumulibacter" 16S rRNA and ppk1 genes from one laboratory-scale and several full-scale EBPR systems. Phylogenies reconstructed using 16S rRNA genes and ppk1 were largely congruent, with ppk1 granting higher phylogenetic resolution and clearer tree topology and thus serving as a better genetic marker than 16S rRNA for revealing population structure within the "Candidatus Accumulibacter" lineage. Sequences from at least five clades of "Candidatus Accumulibacter" were recovered by ppk1-targeted PCR, and subsequently, specific primer sets were designed to target the ppk1 gene for each clade. Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays using "Candidatus Accumulibacter"-specific 16S rRNA and "Candidatus Accumulibacter" clade-specific ppk1 primers were developed and conducted on three laboratory-scale and nine full-scale EBPR samples and two full-scale non-EBPR samples to determine the abundance of the total "Candidatus Accumulibacter" lineage and the relative distributions and abundances of the five "Candidatus Accumulibacter" clades. The qPCR-based estimation of the total "Candidatus Accumulibacter" fraction as a proportion of the bacterial community as measured using 16S rRNA genes was not significantly different from the estimation measured using ppk1, demonstrating the power of ppk1 as a genetic marker for detection of all currently defined "Candidatus Accumulibacter" clades. The relative distributions of "Candidatus Accumulibacter" clades varied among different EBPR systems and also temporally within a system. Our results suggest that the "Candidatus Accumulibacter" lineage is more diverse than previously realized and that different clades within the lineage are ecologically distinct.

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