A rapid methodology for intracellular storage polyphosphate (poly-P) identification and monitoring in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems is proposed based on quantitative image analysis (QIA). In EBPR systems, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) is usually combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization to evaluate the microbial community. The proposed monitoring technique is based on a QIA procedure specifically developed for determining poly-P inclusions within a biomass suspension using solely DAPI by epifluorescence microscopy. Due to contradictory literature regarding DAPI concentrations used for poly-P detection, the present work assessed the optimal DAPI concentration for samples acquired at the end of the EBPR aerobic stage when the accumulation occurred. Digital images were then acquired and processed by means of image processing and analysis. A correlation was found between average poly-P intensity values and the analytical determination. The proposed methodology can be seen as a promising alternative procedure for quantifying intracellular poly-P accumulation in a faster and less labour-intensive way.

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