Fine-scale bacterial community dynamics and the taxa-time relationship within a full-scale activated sludge bioreactor

George F. Wells, Hee-Deung Park, Brad Eggleston, Christopher A. Francis, Craig S. Criddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In activated sludge bioreactors, aerobic heterotrophic communities efficiently remove organics, nutrients, toxic substances, and pathogens from wastewater, but the dynamics of these communities are as yet poorly understood. A macroecology metric used to quantify community shifts is the taxa-time relationship, a temporal analog of the species-area curve. To determine whether this metric can be applied to full-scale bioreactors, activated sludge samples were collected weekly over a one-year period at a local municipal wastewater treatment plant. Bacterial community dynamics were evaluated by monitoring 16S rRNA genes using Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP), corroborated by clone libraries. Observed taxa richness increased with time according to a power law model, as predicted by macroecological theory, with a power law exponent of w = 0.209. The results reveal strong long-term temporal dynamics during a period of stable performance (BOD removal and nitrification). Community dynamics followed a gradual succession away from initial conditions rather than periodicity around a mean " equilibrium" , with greater within-month then among-month community similarities. Changes in community structure were significantly associated via multivariate statistical analyses with dissolved oxygen, temperature, influent silver, biomass (MLSS), flow rate, and influent nitrite, cadmium and chromium concentrations. Overall, our results suggest patterns of bacterial community dynamics likely regulated in part by operational parameters and provide evidence that the taxa-time relationship may be a fundamental ecological pattern in macro- and microbial systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5476-5488
Number of pages13
JournalWater Research
Volume45
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov 1

Fingerprint

community dynamics
Bioreactors
Sewage
bioreactor
activated sludge
power law
macroecology
species-area relationship
toxic substance
Waste Water
nitrite
periodicity
chromium
nitrification
clone
silver
dissolved oxygen
polymorphism
community structure
cadmium

Keywords

  • 16S rRNA
  • Activated sludge
  • Microbial community dynamics
  • Multivariate statistics
  • T-RFLP
  • Taxa-time relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Ecological Modelling

Cite this

Fine-scale bacterial community dynamics and the taxa-time relationship within a full-scale activated sludge bioreactor. / Wells, George F.; Park, Hee-Deung; Eggleston, Brad; Francis, Christopher A.; Criddle, Craig S.

In: Water Research, Vol. 45, No. 17, 01.11.2011, p. 5476-5488.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wells, George F. ; Park, Hee-Deung ; Eggleston, Brad ; Francis, Christopher A. ; Criddle, Craig S. / Fine-scale bacterial community dynamics and the taxa-time relationship within a full-scale activated sludge bioreactor. In: Water Research. 2011 ; Vol. 45, No. 17. pp. 5476-5488.
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