Glycogen-accumulating organisms (GAOs) were present in six full-scale plants investigated and in all but one made a significant contribution to the amount of volatile fatty acid (VFA) taken up anaerobically. While most plants surveyed contain GAOs, it was demonstrated that it is possible for a full-scale plant to operate with an insignificant GAO population.“Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis”were the significant polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) in all plants surveyed. “Candidatus Competibacter phosphatis” were found in all plants along with other possible GAOs that were observed but not identified. A significant GAO population will increase the carbon requirements by removing VFA that could otherwise have been used by PAOs. Process optimization minimizing GAOs in full-scale plants would lead to a more efficient use of VFA. Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR), fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), glycogen accumulating organism (GAO); polyphosphate accumulating organism (PAO);

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