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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Sep 1;45(17):7408-15. doi: 10.1021/es2010545. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Phylogenetic diversity and metabolic potential of activated sludge microbial communities in full-scale wastewater treatment plants.

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Key Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Technology for Ministry of Education, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China.


The activated sludge process is an essential process for treating domestic and industrial wastewaters in most wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). This process consists of a mixture of general and special microorganisms in a form of a complex enrichment population. Thus, the exploration of activated sludge microbial communities is crucial to improve the performance of activated sludge process. In this study, we investigated the phylogenetic diversity and metabolic potential of activated sludge microbial communities in full-scale WWTPs. Four 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed from activated sludge samples. In all samples, Proteobacteria was the most abundant phylogenetic group, followed by Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. The dominance of Proteobacteria was further demonstrated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). Some specific genera, e.g., Nitrosomonas, Thauera, and Dechloromonas, which significantly correlate with the functions and performance of wastewater treatment, were abundant in all samples. A large number of unclassified sequences were found in the library, suggesting that a wide variety of novel species may inhabit complex activated sludge communities. The structures of the bacterial community did not differ significantly among samples. All samples utilized the vast majority of 31 carbon sources of an EcoPlate (Biolog), suggesting that activated sludge microbial communities possess high metabolic potential and equivalent functions required for wastewater treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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