Active ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea in wastewater treatment systems

Jiawen Wang , Maosheng Zheng , Shishi He , Yueqi Feng , Mingyuan Wang , Yong-Xin Liu , Chenyuan Dang


Received August 05, 2020,Revised , Accepted September 28, 2020, Available online October 11, 2020

Volume 102,2021,Pages 273-282

Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) are two microbial groups mediating nitrification, yet little is presently known about their abundances and community structures at the transcriptional level in wastewater treatment systems (WWTSs). This is a significant issue, as the numerical abundance of AOA or AOB at the gene level may not necessarily represent their functional role in ammonia oxidation. Using amoA genes as molecular markers, this study investigated the transcriptional abundance and community structure of active AOA and AOB in 14 WWTSs. Quantitative PCR results indicated that the transcriptional abundances of AOB amoA (averaged: 1.6 × 108 copies g−1 dry sludge) were higher than those of AOA (averaged: 3.4 × 107 copies g−1 dry sludge) in all WWTSs despite several higher abundances of AOA amoA at the gene level. Moreover, phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that Nitrosomonas europaea and unknown clusters accounted for 37.66% and 49.96% of the total AOB amoA transcripts, respectively, suggesting their dominant role in driving ammonia oxidation. Meanwhile, AOA amoA transcripts were only successfully retrieved from 3 samples, and the Nitrosospaera sister cluster dominated, accounting for 83.46%. Finally, the substrate utilization kinetics of different AOA and AOB species might play a fundamental role in shaping their niche differentiation, community composition, and functional activity. This study provides a basis for evaluating the relative contributions of ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms (AOMs) to nitrogen conversions in WWTSs.

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