Detailed ecological information on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in activated sludge of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is very important to improve the efficiency of wastewater treatment. In this study, activated sludge samples were collected from seven municipal WWTPs located in seven cities in China, and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), as well as construction of clone libraries combined with correlation-based data analysis was performed. Further, the effect of geographic distribution and some water quality parameters on the ecological distribution of AOB in activated sludge from WWTPs were investigated. The geographic distribution, the influent concentration of total nitrogen (TN) and ammonia nitrogen (NH4+-N) had significant effects on the abundance of AOB (P < 0.05). However, the community structure of AOB were not significantly affected by geographic distribution, but by water quality parameters including the concentrations of TN and NH4+-N. N. oligotropha lineage was the dominant AOB group in the wastewater treatment systems. The results obtained in this study provide useful information to understand some aspects of the ecological information and influencing factors of AOB in geographically distributed WWTPs.

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