Abstract

High rate algal ponds (HRAPs) are shallow, mixed systems for wastewater treatment, which use sunlight exposure for disinfection. Little is known regarding the relationships between the bacteria and viruses within HRAP systems. Uniquely, flow cytometry permits the rapid identification of bacterial and viral populations in wastewater samples, separating populations based on genome and particle size. Treated wastewater samples were collected from an HRAP at Kingston on Murray, South Australia. Flow cytometry analysis detected bacterial populations and discriminated virus-like particles (VLP) and large VLP (LVLP). Rapid, short term, fluctuations in the abundance of all three populations were observed. Changes in the abundance of these populations was compared; wastewater composition was used as metadata for the comparisons. Linear regression determined relationships in abundances between bacteria and LVLP (R2 0.2985); LVLP and VLP (R2 0.5829) and bacteria and VLP (R2 0.5778) all with p-values of <0.001. Bacterial, LVLP and VLP abundance positively correlated with each other, indicating potential microbial interactions. Overall, the results suggest a parasitic relationship was occurring and driving the abundances of bacteria and viruses within the system.

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