The microbial mechanisms of carbon removal in subsurface flow wetlands were studied, in one wetland with plants and one without plants. Particular emphasis was given to the influence of plants in the treatment process. Wetlands without plants showed higher carbon removal than those with plants, 63% and 51%, respectively (p<0.05). Molecular analysis of the bacterial diversity, growth rates and specific microbial activities showed that the two wetlands were different, especially towards the outlet of the two systems. Sulphate reducers and methanogens were found in both wetlands, and they are thought to be the main removers of soluble organic carbon in these two systems.

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