Microbial Ecology

, Volume 63, Issue 4, pp 773–786 | Cite as

Estimating Biodiversity of Fungi in Activated Sludge Communities Using Culture-Independent Methods

  • Tegan N. EvansEmail author
  • Robert J. Seviour


Fungal diversity of communities in several activated sludge plants treating different influent wastes was determined by comparative sequence analyses of their 18S rRNA genes. Methods for DNA extraction and choice of primers for PCR amplification were both optimised using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profile patterns. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the levels of fungal biodiversity in some communities, like those treating paper pulp wastes, were low, and most of the fungi detected in all communities examined were novel uncultured representatives of the major fungal subdivisions, in particular, the newly described clade Cryptomycota. The fungal populations in activated sludge revealed by these culture-independent methods were markedly different to those based on culture-dependent data. Members of the genera Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillus and Mucor, which have been commonly identified in mixed liquor, were not identified in any of these plant communities. Non-fungal eukaryotic 18S rRNA genes were also amplified with the primer sets used. This is the first report where culture-independent methods have been applied to flocculated activated sludge biomass samples to estimate fungal community composition and, as expected, the data obtained gave a markedly different view of their population biodiversity compared to that based on culture-dependent methods.


Internal Transcribe Spacer Activate Sludge Clone Library Fungal Community Aerobic Granule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank Jian Rong Liu, Robert Morris, Kate Pauley, Catherine Watts and Michael Machin for providing biomass samples and information on the treatment plants. Tegan Evans was a recipient of a La Trobe University Pharmacy and Applied Sciences Department postgraduate scholarship.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biotechnology Research Centre, La Trobe Institute for Molecular SciencesLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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