Wastewater treatment relies on careful integration of environmental engineering with microbial ecology. This would seem to be particularly the case when attempting to enhance survivability of organisms introduced from outside the main-stream reactor, i.e. bioaugmentation. Molecular biology tools were utilised in this study to assist in understanding the mechanisms of successful bioaugmentation. Molecular fingerprinting showed that side-stream reactor configuration strongly influenced ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) community structure. In both lab-scale and full-scale systems, AOB communities in the side-stream and main-stream were very similar. The experimental systems revealed that a PFR side-stream produced greater diversity of AOB than a CSTR side-stream in a PFR main-stream system, whereas the full-scale side-stream resulted in essentially an AOB monoculture. Phylogenetic analysis revealed less diversity than molecular fingerprinting perhaps due to biases in the cloning/transformation procedure.

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