In enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems, polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) are primarily responsible for removing phosphate from wastewater. Propionate is an abundant carbon substrate in many EBPR plants and has been suggested to provide PAOs an advantage
over their carbon competitors—the glycogen-accumulating organisms (GAOs). The aerobic metabolism of PAOs enriched with a propionate carbon source is studied in this paper. A metabolic model is proposed and experimentally validated to characterize the aerobic biochemical transformations
by PAOs. The model predicts very well the experimental data obtained from the enriched PAO culture through solid-, liquid-, and gas-phase analyses. This model may be combined with previously formulated metabolic models to better describe the biochemical activity of PAOs with acetate and propionate
as the primary carbon sources. Furthermore, it can also facilitate the study of the effect of different carbon sources on PAO–GAO competition.
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