Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) in wastewater treatment involves metabolic cycling through the biopolymers polyphosphate (polyP), polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), and glycogen. This cycling is induced through treatment systems that alternate between carbon-rich anaerobic and carbon-poor aerobic reactor basins. While the appearance and disappearance of these biopolymers has been documented, the intracellular pressures that regulate their synthesis and degradation are not well understood. Current models of the EBPR process have examined a limited number of metabolic pathways that are frequently lumped into an even smaller number of “reactions.” This work, on the other hand, uses a stoichiometric model that contains a complete set of the pathways involved in bacterial biomass synthesis and energy production to examine EBPR metabolism. Using the stoichiometric model we were able to analyze the role of EBPR metabolism within the larger context of total cellular metabolism, as well as predict the flux distribution of carbon and energy fluxes throughout the total reaction network. The model was able to predict the consumption of PHB, the degradation of polyP, the uptake of acetate and the release of Pi. It demonstrated the relationship between acetate uptake and Pi release, and the effect of pH on this relationship. The model also allowed analysis of growth metabolism with respect to EBPR.

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