Proteins comprise a significant fraction of effluent organic carbon and organic nitrogen, but have not been extensively characterized, thus their fate in the environment is unknown. We used proteomics to characterize the proteins in wastewater effluents from three activated sludge plants.
Analyses on raw and 0.45μm filtered samples included solids, COD, nitrogen species, and proteins. Concentrated samples were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Enzyme proteolytic activities were also assessed. Total nitrogen and total protein were significantly
correlated. Protein profiles showed some proteins that were produced during biological treatment and some that persisted through the process. Microfiltration processes will not effectively remove all proteins as indicated by the similar profiles of 0.45μm filtered secondary effluent and
crude effluent. The detection of proteolytic enzymes in the secondary effluent implies that effluent-derived enzymes can degrade aquatic organic matter and possibly modulate nutrient cycling in receiving waters.
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