Environmental biology

Responses of protists with different feeding habits to the changes of activated sludge conditions: A study based on biomass data

Bo Hu , Rong Qi , Wei An , Min Yang


Received February 02, 2012,Revised May 16, 2012, Accepted , Available online December 07, 2012

Volume 24,2012,Pages 2127-2132

Changes of protists, which were categorized into different functional groups primarily according to their feeding habits, in two full-scale municipal wastewater treatment systems experiencing sludge bulking were investigated over a period of 14 months. Protist biomass represented 3.7% to 5.2% of total biomass on average under normal sludge conditions, and the percentage increased significantly (p < 0.05) under sludge bulking conditions. The biomass of Chilodonella spp., capable of eating filamentous bacteria, tended to decrease in both systems when sludge bulking occurred, showing that the abnormal growth of filamentous bacteria did not lead to a biomass bloom of this group of protists. On the other hand, the bactivorous protists represented more than 96% of total protist biomass, and the biomass of this group, particularly the attached ciliates, increased significantly (p < 0.05) when sludge bulking occurred. The significant increase of the attached ciliates may have possibly facilitated the growth of filamentous bacteria through selectively preying on non-filamentous bacteria and further exacerbated sludge bulking. The redundancy analysis and correlation analysis results showed that the biomass changes of the attached ciliates were primarily related to the sludge volume index and to some extent related to five-day biochemical oxygen demand loading and hydraulic retention time.

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