IWA Publishing

Elevational characteristics of the archaeal community in full-scale activated sludge wastewater treatment plants at a 3,660-meter elevational scale

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Due to the important roles of archaea in wastewater treatment processes, archaeal communities have been studied extensively in various anaerobic reactors, but the knowledge of archaeal communities in full-scale activated sludge wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) remains quite poor. In this study, 454-pyrosequencing was for the first time employed to investigate archaeal communities from 20 full-scale activated sludge WWTPs distributed at a 3,660-meter elevational scale in China. Results showed that archaeal communities from WWTPs were dominated by Methanosarcinales (84.6%). A core archaeal population (94.5%) composed of Methanosaeta, Methanosarcina, Methanogenium and Methanobrevibacter was shared among WWTPs. The elevational pattern of archaeal communities was observed in WWTPs, with an elevational threshold associated with archaeal community richness and structures at approximately 1,500 meters above sea level (masl). A declining trend in community richness with increasing elevation was observed at higher elevations, whereas no trend was presented at lower elevations. Spearman correlation analysis indicated that the archaeal community richness at higher elevations was associated with more environmental variables than that at lower elevations. Redundancy analysis indicated that wastewater variables were the dominant contributors to the variation of community structures at higher elevations, followed by operational variables and elevation.

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