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Seasonal Changes in Bacterial Communities Cause Foaming in a Wastewater Treatment Plant

Abstract

Bio-foaming is a major problem in solid separation in activated sludge (AS) wastewater treatment systems. Understanding the changes in bacterial communities during sludge foaming is vital for explaining foam formation. Changes in bacterial communities in the foam, corresponding foaming AS, and non-foaming AS in a seasonal foaming wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Northern China were investigated by high-throughput pyrosequencing and molecular quantification-based approaches. We found that bacterial communities of the foam and the corresponding foaming AS were similar but markedly different from those of the non-foaming AS. Actinobacteria was the predominant phylum in the foam and the corresponding foaming AS, whereas Proteobacteria was predominant in the non-foaming AS. Similar to the results of most previous studies, our results showed that CandidatusMicrothrix parvicella” was the predominant filamentous bacteria in the foam and the corresponding foaming AS and was significantly enriched in the foam compared to the corresponding foaming AS. Its abundance decreased gradually with a slow disappearance of sludge foaming, indicating that its overgrowth had a direct relationship with sludge foaming. In addition to Candidatus M. parvicella, Tetrasphaera and Trichococcus might play a role in sludge foaming, because they supported the changes in AS microbial ecology for foam formation. The effluent water quality of the surveyed plant remained stable during the period of sludge foaming, but the microbial consortia responsible for nitrogen and phosphorus transformation and removal markedly changed compared to that in the non-foaming AS. This study adds to the previous understanding of bacterial communities causing foaming in WWTPs.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Main Direction Program of Knowledge Innovation of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KZCX2-YW-JC407-2) and the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB15010200). We would like to thank the staffs in the investigated WWTP for sampling.

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Correspondence to Zhisheng Yu.

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Wang, P., Yu, Z., Zhao, J. et al. Seasonal Changes in Bacterial Communities Cause Foaming in a Wastewater Treatment Plant. Microb Ecol 71, 660–671 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-015-0700-x

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Keywords

  • Sludge foaming
  • Bacterial community
  • Filamentous bacteria
  • Pyrosequencing
  • qPCR