University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Monitoring associations between clade-level variation, overall community structure and ecosystem function in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems using terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 04:01 authored by Slater, FR, Craig JohnsonCraig Johnson, Blackall, LL, Beiko, RG, Bond, PL
The role of Candidatus “Accumulibacter phosphatis” (Accumulibacter) in enhanced bio- logical phosphorus removal (EBPR) is well established but the relevance of different Accumulibacter clades to the performance of EBPR systems is unknown. We developed a terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) technique to monitor changes in the relative abundance of key members of the bacterial community, including Accumulibacter clades, in four replicate mini-sequencing batch reactors (mSBRs) operated for EBPR over a 35-day period. The ability of the T-RFLP technique to detect trends was confirmed using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). EBPR performance varied between reactors and over time; by day 35, performance was maintained in mSBR2 whilst it had deteriorated in mSBR1. However, reproducible trends in structureefunction rela- tionships were detected in the mSBRs. EBPR performance was strongly associated with the relative abundance of total Accumulibacter. A shift in the ratio of the dominant Accu- mulibacter clades was also detected, with Type IA associated with good EBPR performance and Type IIC associated with poor EBPR performance. Changes in ecosystem function of the mSBRs in the early stages of the experiment were more closely associated with changes in the abundance of (unknown) members of the flanking community than of either Accumulibacter or Candidatus “Competibacter phosphatis”. This study therefore reveals a hitherto unrecorded and complex relationship between Accumulibacter clades, the flanking community and ecosystem function of laboratory-scale EBPR systems.


Publication title

Water Research










School of Natural Sciences


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford,

Rights statement

The definitive version is available at

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics