This study carried out quantification of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) populations in 12 full-scale sewage activated sludge systems that were different in ammonia removals and treatment processes during three different seasons. Experiment was divided into 3 parts: 1) analysis of AOB communities by PCR-DGGE-cloning-sequencing of 16S rRNA genes; 2) development of four real-time PCR primer sets for quantification of the particular AOB of interest; and 3) quantification of AOB populations by using the newly developed real-time PCR primer sets. The results suggested that all the primer sets gave good reproducibility and specificity for PCR amplification with the detection limits of 102 copies/PCR reaction. Although the 12 systems were different in several aspects, one of the identified sequence types of Nitrosomonas oligotropha cluster was the dominant AOB in every system and every season studied. However, the other sequence type of this cluster was not significantly involved in ammonia removals in the systems. The occurrence of N. communis cluster in the systems seemed to depend on the remaining oxygen concentrations in the sludge floc and thus the activity of aerobic heterotrophs in the aeration tanks. N. europaea–Nitrosococcus. mobilis solely existed in one A2O system of which the influent contained twice the chloride concentrations than those of other systems.

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