2013 Volume 28 Issue 1 Pages 96-104
The removal of biodegradable organic matter is one of the most important objectives in biological wastewater treatments. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-accumulating organisms (PHAAOs) significantly contribute to the removal of biodegradable organic matter; however, their microbial community composition is mostly unknown. In the present study, the microbial community composition of PHAAOs was investigated at 8 full-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), operated in fully aerobic mode, by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis and post-FISH Nile blue A (NBA) staining techniques. Our results demonstrated that 1) PHAAOs were in the range of 11–18% in the total number of cells, and 2) the microbial community composition of PHAAOs was similar at the bacterial domain/phylum/class/order level among the 8 full-scale WWTPs, and dominant PHAAOs were members of the class Alphaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria. The microbial community composition of α- and β-proteobacterial PHAAOs was examined by 16S rRNA gene clone library analysis and further by applying a set of newly designed oligonucleotide probes targeting 16S rRNA gene sequences of α- or β-proteobacterial PHAAOs. The results demonstrated that the microbial community composition of PHAAOs differed in the class Alphaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria, which possibly resulted in a different PHA accumulation capacity among the WWTPs (8.5–38.2 mg-C g-VSS-1 h-1). The present study extended the knowledge of the microbial diversity of PHAAOs in full-scale WWTPs operated in fully aerobic mode.