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Filamentous Scum Bacteria in Activated Sludge Plants: Detection and Identification Quality by Conventional Activated Sludge Microscopy versus Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization

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Detection of filamentous bacteria morphotypes involved in scum formation in activated sludge wastewater treatment plants by conventional sludge microscopy is often doomed to fail because of morphological and taxonomical variations. The aim of this study is to compare detection, identification, and quantification quality of filamentous “scum bacteria” found by conventional activated sludge microscopy and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). In the case of filamentous Microthrix parvicella and Eikelboom morphotypes 1863 and 1851, conventional activated sludge microscopy and FISH results correspond well. In contrast, conventional activated sludge microscopy overlooks nocardioform actinomycete and type 1863 single cells. On the other hand, FISH underestimates filamentous nocardioform actinomycetes and morphotypes 0041/0675 or 0092 because of insufficient cell wall permeability or because of their taxonomic variability, with a resulting inadequacy of previously published probes. Nostocoida limicola morphotype results are still inconclusive because of low bacteria numbers being available in situ and the enormous taxonomic variability within this group.
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Keywords: Eikelboom filamentous bacteria morphotypes; Microthrix parvicella; Nostocoida limicola; activated sludge; fluorescence in situ hybridization; nocardioform actinomycetes; scum

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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