Composition and diversity of ammonia-oxidising bacterial communities in wastewater treatment reactors of different designtreating identical wastewater

AK Rowan, JR Snape, D Fearnside, MR Barer, TP Curtis, IM Head

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173 Citations (Scopus)


Autotrophic ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) are a crucial component of the microbial communities of nitrifying wastewater treatment systems. Nitrification is known to occur in reactors of different configuration, but whether AOB communities are different in reactors of different design is unknown. We compared the diversity and community structure of the betaproteobacterial AOB in two full-scale treatment reactors - a biological aerated filter (BAF) and a trickling filter - receiving the same wastewater. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene fragments with AOB-selective primers was combined with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to allow comparative analysis of the dominant AOB populations. The phylogenetic affiliation of the dominant AOB was determined by cloning and sequencing PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments. DGGE profiles were compared using a probability-based similarity index (Raup and Crick). The use of a probability-based index of similarity allowed us to evaluate if the differences and similarities observed in AOB community structure in different samples were statistically significant or could be accounted for by chance matching of bands in DGGE profiles, which would suggest random colonisation of the reactors by different AOB. The community structure of AOB was different in different sections of each of the reactors and differences were also noted between the reactors. All AOB-like sequences identified, grouped within the genus Nitrosomonas. A greater diversity of AOB was detected in the trickling filters than in the BAF though all samples analysed appeared to be dominated by AOB most closely related to Nitrosococcus mobilis. Numerical analysis of DGGE profiles indicated that the AOB communities in depth profiles from the filter beds were selected in a non-random manner. (C) 2002 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2003


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