Granular microbial aggregates are used in aerobic treatment of wastewater. The granules have diverse microbial community and complex spatial structure. The structural elements are radial sub-aggregates, concentric layers, channels, pores, polysaccharide plugs, and an anaerobic core of lysed cells. Aerobic bacteria, consisting of 69–84% of microbial biomass, were concentrated in a layer to the depth of 550 μm from the surface of the granule. Facultative anaerobic bacteria, consisting of 9–13% of microbial biomass, dominated in a layer at a depth from 550 μm to 850 μm from the surface of the granule. Obligate anaerobic bacteria, consisting of 2% of microbial biomass, dominated in a layer on the depth from 850 μm to 1,000 μm from the surface of the granule. A core of dead and lysed cells was at a depth greater than 1,000 μm from the surface of the granule. The depth of the anaerobic layer correlated with the appearance of polysaccharide plugs in the pores. Enrichment cultures of microorganisms with high cell surface hydrophobicity or self-aggregation ability can be used to facilitate the formation of microbial granules.

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