The community structure and metabolic function of activated sludge carrying out enhanced biological phosphorus removal have been investigated. Laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactors were operated at several influent COD:P ratios to obtain sludges with a range of phosphorus contents.
Molecular microbiological techniques based on small subunit ribosomal RNA were used to characterize the community structure of these sludges. The dominant polyphosphate accumulating organism was a close relative of Rhodocyclus tenuis, a member of the beta subclass of the Proteobacteria.
Fragments of genes coding for polyphosphate kinase (PPK), thought to be responsible for polyphosphate accumulation, were retrieved from one of the sludges. Fluorescent in situ hybridization was carried out to co-localize the PPK gene and the ribosomal RNA of the Rhodocyclus-like organism
to demonstrate that the novel PPK gene originated in the genome of the dominant polyphosphate accumulating organism in the sludge.
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