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Open Access Tools for Metagenomic Analysis at Wastewater Treatment Plants:Application to a Foaming Episode

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Metagenomic analysis is a powerful approach for wholesale characterizations of microbial populations like those that operate within municipal wastewater treatment plants. It is well known that many problems are associated with the overgrowth or undergrowth of specific bacterial genera. We describe a database of the combined metagenomes of activated sludge aeration basins from around the globe and use it as a reference to study the population of a foamy activated sludge aeration basin. We show that foam production is associated with blooms of mycolic acid producing genera, especially Mycobacterium. We confirm this bloom using the acid-fast stain, and we show that genes involved with mycolic acid production are enriched in the foam-producing sample. In addition, we show that this sample has unusual nitrifying populations. We suggest that low-cost DNA sequencing and publicly available tools for shotgun metagenomic analyses, including those described here, might broadly facilitate wastewater treatment plant operation.
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Keywords: Acinetobacter; Metagenomics; Mycobacterium; Mycolata; Nitrospira; activated sludge; nitrification; wastewater foam

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2018

This article was made available online on 29 September 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Tools for Metagenomic Analysis at Wastewater Treatment Plants: Application to a Foaming Episode".

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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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