Importance of Species Sorting and Immigration on the Bacterial Assembly of Different-Sized Aggregates in a Full-Scale Aerobic Granular Sludge Plant

Muhammad Ali, Zhongwei Wang, Khaled W. Salam, Hari Ananda Rao, Mario Pronk, Mark C. M. van Loosdrecht, Pascal Saikaly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

In aerobic granular sludge (AGS) systems, different-sized microbial aggregates having different solids retention time (SRT) coexist in the same reactor compartment and are subjected to the same influent wastewater. Thus, the AGS system provides a unique ecosystem to study the importance of local (species sorting) and regional (immigration) processes in bacterial community assembly. The microbial communities of different-sized aggregates (flocs 1.0 mm), influent wastewater, excess sludge and effluent of a full-scale AGS plant were characterized over a steady-state operation period of 6 months. Amplicon sequencing was integrated with mass balance to determine the SRT and net growth rate of operational taxonomic units (OTUs). We found strong evidence of species sorting as opposed to immigration, which was significantly higher at short SRT (i.e., flocs and small granules) than that at long SRT (large granules). Rare OTUs in wastewater belonging to putative functional groups responsible for nitrogen and phosphorus removal were progressively enriched with an increase in microbial aggregates size. In contrast, fecal- and sewage infrastructure-derived microbes progressively decreased in relative abundance with increase in microbial aggregate size. These findings highlight the importance of AGS as a unique model ecosystem to study fundamental microbial ecology concepts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8291-8301
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Volume53
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 13 2019

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