Filamentous population in activated sludge and key operational parameters of full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with bulking problems representative for Poland were investigated with quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization. Statistical analyses revealed few relationships between operational parameters and biovolume of filamentous bacteria. Sludge age was not only positively correlated with abundance of Chloroflexi (parametric correlation and principal component analysis (PCA)), but also differentiated Microthrix population (analysis of variance (ANOVA)). Phylum Chloroflexi and pH presented a negative relation during the study (PCA). ANOVA showed that pH of influent and sludge volume index (SVI) differentiated abundance of types 0803 and 1851 of Chloroflexi and candidate division TM7. SVI increased along with higher abundance of Microthrix (positive parametric and non-parametric correlations and positive relation in PCA). Biovolumes of morphotypes 0803 and 1851 of Chloroflexi were differentiated by organic matter in influent, also by nutrients in the case of Chloroflexi type 1851. Chemical and biological oxygen demands (COD and BOD5, respectively) were negatively correlated with Microthrix. COD also differentiated the abundance of Haliscomenobacter hydrossis. Results of the study can be used to prevent WWTPs from excessive proliferation of filamentous bacteria and operational problems caused by them – bulking and foaming of activated sludge.

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