The microbial communities of 5-stage BNR activated sludge samples were analyzed using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) and 16S rDNA characterization. The total cell numbers of each reactor were from 2.36 × 109 cells/ml to 2.83 × 109 cells/ml. From 56.5% to 62.0% of total DAPI cell counts were hybridized to the most bacterial specific probe EUB 338. Among them, b-proteobacteria were most dominant in each tank. The number of phosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs) was almost 50% of the total cell number in anoxic-1 tank, and these results indicate that this process has a high content of denitrifying phosphorus accumulating organisms (dPAOs). In contrast with FISH, 16S rDNA analysis showed that dominant groups were the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium group and high G+C% gram-positive bacteria, which were determined as PAOs in anoxic-1 tank. The beta subclass Proteobacteria did not accumulate a large amount of polyphosphate. The overall results indicate that high G+C% gram-positive bacteria and the Cytophaga-Flavobacterium group might play a key role as dPAOs in this process.

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