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Altered Carbon Flow by Polyphosphate-Accumulating Organisms During Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal

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The effect of carbon source availability during enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) was evaluated. To assess the EBPR activity of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs), PAO-enriched sludge from a laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactor and activated sludge from a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plant were used, and their EBRP performances were compared. Spiking with acetate (1000 mg/L chemical oxygen demand) during the aerobic phase disrupted the EBPR performance of both types of sludge; however, when the carbon source was removed, still in the aerobic phase, the EBPR performance of both types of sludge was restored. The PAO-enriched sludge showed 3 to 5 times greater glycogen restoration activity per biomass than the full-scale activated sludge. During high acetate loading in the anaerobic phase, PAOs are supposed to deplete internally stored polyphosphate, causing a “poly-phosphate limited condition”. Under such a condition, unlike the full-scale activated sludge, the PAO-enriched sludge produced a higher fraction of poly-hydroxylvalerate. It was proposed that PAOs can use the glyoxylate pathway and the methymalonyl-CoA pathway through a full or partial tricarboxylic acid cycle under the anaerobic condition.

Keywords: enhanced biological phosphorus removal; glyoxylate pathway; methylmalonyl-CoA pathway; poly-β-hydroxyl valerate; polyphosphate-accumulating organisms

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2009

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  • 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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