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Water Res. 2012 May 1;46(7):2167-75. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2012.01.034. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Quantitative detection of previously characterized syntrophic bacteria in anaerobic wastewater treatment systems by sequence-specific rRNA cleavage method.

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Bio-Medical Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Central 6, Higashi 1-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


Quantitative monitoring method of two important trophic groups of bacteria in methanogenic communities was established and applied to six different anaerobic processes. The method we employed was based upon our previous sequence-specific rRNA cleavage method that allows quantification of rRNA of target groups so that the populations reflecting in situ activity could be determined. We constructed a set of scissor probes targeting the Chloroflexi group known as 'semi-syntrophic' heterotrophic bacteria and fatty acid-oxidizing syntrophs to determine their relative abundance in the processes. By using the method, we found that several reactors harbored a large amount of organisms belonging to the phylum Chloroflexi accounting for up to 20% of the total prokaryotic populations. Propionate-oxidizing syntrophs, Syntrophobacter, Smithella and Pelotomaculum were also found to be significant comprising up to 3.9% of the total populations, but their distribution is highly dependent on the process examined. This is the first clear, non-PCR based quantitative evidence that those organisms play active roles under in situ methanogenic conditions.

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