Integrative microbial community analysis reveals full-scale enhanced biological phosphorus removal under tropical conditions
Reference: Scientific Reports (2016) 6: 25719.
Management of phosphorus discharge from human waste is essential for the control of eutrophication
in surface waters. Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is a sustainable, efficient way of
removing phosphorus from waste water without employing chemical precipitation, but is assumed
unachievable in tropical temperatures due to conditions that favour glycogen accumulating organisms
(GAOs) over polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs). Here, we show these assumptions are
unfounded by studying comparative community dynamics in a full-scale plant following systematic
perturbation of operational conditions, which modified community abundance, function and
physicochemical state. A statistically significant increase in the relative abundance of the PAO
Accumulibacter was associated with improved EBPR activity. GAO relative abundance also increased,
challenging the assumption of competition. An Accumulibacter bin-genome was identified from a whole
community metagenomic survey, and comparative analysis against extant Accumulibacter genomes
suggests a close relationship to Type II. Analysis of the associated metatranscriptome data revealed that
genes encoding proteins involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and glycolysis pathways were highly
expressed, consistent with metabolic modelling results. Our findings show that tropical EBPR is indeed
possible, highlight the translational potential of studying competition dynamics in full-scale waste
water communities and carry implications for plant design in tropical regions.

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Published By
Law Y., Kirkegaard R.H., Cokro A. A., Liu X., Arumugam K., Xie C., Stokholm-Bjerregaard M., Moses D., Nielsen P. H., Wuertz S., Williams R. B. H.