Patterns of microbial fatty acids (MFAs) from activated sludge samples were analyzed over one year's operation at the Hamilton Woodward municipal wastewater treatment plant in Canada. The objective was to examine community structure dynamics and to consider the potential for interrelationships between the population dynamics and treatment performance. With the exception of a higher than normal solids discharge on one day, the treatment plant operations were otherwise stable during the year. As such, wastewater temperature appeared to be the dominant influence on the observed dynamics of the MFA community structure. MFA monitoring and analysis was demonstrated as a practical diagnostic tool in community structure trend monitoring. While the findings did suggest potential for full-scale treatment process monitoring, further development is required. Advancement in technique and greater insight for the data interpretation will be made with historical data from continued case studies. In future studies, selective sub-sampling of biomass fractions (settling and dispersed fauna), evolution in the compositional analysis methods, and, ideally, complementary genotypic and classical microscopic analyses on select samples are recommended.

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