The diversity of filamentous bacteria present in industrial wastewater treatment plants was analysed by a combination of classical and molecular-biological approaches. Many unknown filamentous bacteria were observed in about 80 screened activated sludge samples from different industries with sometimes severe bulking sludge problems. A special focus was paid to filaments which resembled “Nostocoida limicola”, a filamentous bacterium which was found to be present in many WWTPs. These filamentous bacteria are hardly cultivable and only one strain was obtained and maintained in co-culture with a yeast. The 16S rRNA sequences of several other “Nostocoida limicola”-like filamentous bacteria from different sludge samples were obtained by micromanipulation and different molecular-biological methods. The sequences were phylogenetically analyzed and specific molecular probes were developed and applied. The results clearly demonstrate that “Nostocoida limicola”-like filaments from industrial WWTPs are different from all other “Nostocoida limicola” types investigated so far. Our strains are affiliated to the alpha-subclass of Proteobacteria.

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