The filamentous bacteria “Microthrix parvicella” can cause serious bulking and scumming in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) all over the world. Decades of research have identified Microthrixas a specialized lipid consumer but could not clarify the processes that allow this organism to successfully compete in activated sludge systems. In this study we developed a model, based on ASM3, that describes the pronounced seasonal variations of Microthrix abundance observed in a full-scale WWTP. We hypothesize that low temperatures reduce the solubility of lipids and inhibit their uptake by non-specialized bacteria. The presented model structure and parameters successfully fit the measured data; however they do not necessarily reflect the only and true selection mechanism for Microthrix. This model is not yet to be used for prediction; it is rather a valuable research tool to coordinate the discussion and plan future research activities in order to identify the relevant selection mechanisms favoring Microthrix in activated sludge systems.

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