Characterization of bacterial community dynamics in a full-scale drinking water treatment plant

Cuiping Li, Fangqiong Ling, Minglu Zhang, Wen Tso Liu, Yuxian Li, Wenjun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of microbial communities in drinking water systems is vital to securing the microbial safety of drinking water. The objective of this study was to comprehensively characterize the dynamics of microbial biomass and bacterial communities at each step of a full-scale drinking water treatment plant in Beijing, China. Both bulk water and biofilm samples on granular activated carbon (GAC) were collected over 9 months. The proportion of cultivable cells decreased during the treatment processes, and this proportion was higher in warm season than cool season, suggesting that treatment processes and water temperature probably had considerable impact on the R2A cultivability of total bacteria. 16s rRNA gene based 454 pyrosequencing analysis of the bacterial community revealed that Proteobacteria predominated in all samples. The GAC biofilm harbored a distinct population with a much higher relative abundance of Acidobacteria than water samples. Principle coordinate analysis and one-way analysis of similarity indicated that the dynamics of the microbial communities in bulk water and biofilm samples were better explained by the treatment processes rather than by sampling time, and distinctive changes of the microbial communities in water occurred after GAC filtration. Furthermore, 20 distinct OTUs contributing most to the dissimilarity among samples of different sampling locations and 6 persistent OTUs present in the entire treatment process flow were identified. Overall, our findings demonstrate the significant effects that treatment processes have on the microbial biomass and community fluctuation and provide implications for further targeted investigation on particular bacteria populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of environmental sciences (China)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • 454 pyrosequencing
  • Bacterial community
  • Dynamics
  • Flow cytometry
  • Heterotrophic plate count

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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