Microbial community changes in biological phosphate-removal systems on altering sludge phosphorus content

Wen Tso Liu, Katrina D. Linning, Kazunori Nakamura, Takashi Mino, Tomonori Matsuo, Larry J. Forney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomarkers (respiratory quinones and cellular fatty acids) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes were used to characterize the microbial community structure of lab-scale enhanced biological phosphate-removal (EBPR) systems in response to altering sludge phosphorus (P) content. All the data suggest that the microbial community structures of sludge samples with a P content between 8 and 12.3% (sludge dry weight) (i.e. good EBPR activity) were very similar, but differed from those with 2% P content (i.e. no EBPR activity). For all samples analysed, ubiquinones Q-8 and Q-10, menaquinone MK-8(H4), and fatty acids C(16:0), C(16:1ω9c), and C(18:1ω11c) were the major components. The dominance of Q-8, Q-10 and MK-8(H4) suggested that large numbers of organisms belonging to the β and α subclasses of the Proteobacteria and the Actinobacteria from the high G+C Gram-positive bacteria, respectively, were present. DGGE analysis revealed at least 7-9 predominant DNA bands and numerous other fragments in each sample. Five major DGGE fragments from each of the 2% and 12% P-containing sludge samples, respectively, were successfully isolated and sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis of the sequences indicated that both 2% and 12% P-containing sludge samples shared three common phylotypes that were separately affiliated with a novel bacterial group from the γ subclass of the Proteobacteria, two MK-8(H4)-containing actinobacteria previously isolated from the 2% P-containing sludge, and a Caulobacter spp. in the α subclass of the Proteobacteria. The phylogenetic analysis also revealed phylotypes unique to both sludge samples. Changes in sludge P content therefore had an effect on the composition and abundance of the predominant microbial populations, though specific phylotypes could not be unequivocally associated with EBPR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1099-1107
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rDNA
  • Activated sludge
  • Biological phosphate removal
  • Biomarker
  • DGGE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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