Ciliate communities were studied in the biofilms of three plants with rotating biological contactors (RBCs) over the period of one year. The aims of this study were: (i) to characterize ciliates to species level; (ii) to determine their abundance and spatial variation through the biological system; and (iii) to relate the spatial segregation and richness of ciliate species to plant performance. A number of species ranging from 33 to 67 were identified at the different plants. The overall best represented groups were peritrichs followed by scuticociliates (Las Matas), cyrtophorids (Boadilla) or hypotrichs (Camarma). Comparison of RBCs and activated sludge communities indicated that even though both were mainly constituted by peritrichs, differences in groups and species composition were observed.

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