The anaerobic uptake of acetate and propionate as single and dual carbon sources by the putative Defluviicoccus vanus related glycogen accumulating organisms (DvGAOs) is investigated. A high enrichment of DvGAOs, representing 95 +/- 3% of the bacterial community bound to the EUBMIX probes, was achieved in a lab-scale reactor operated under alternating anaerobic and aerobic conditions with acetate as the sole carbon source. The culture is able to take up both acetate and propionate under anaerobic conditions, and the metabolism in both cases is well described by the metabolic models previously proposed for GAOs and verified with experimental data obtained with other types of GAO cultures. In the simultaneous presence of acetate and propionate, DvGAOs take up these two carbon sources sequentially, with propionate uptake preceding acetate uptake. Through model-based analysis, we hypothesise that DvGAOs prefer propionate in order to maximise their production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) with the same glycogen consumption, which would enhance their growth potential in the following aerobic period. Despite a low to negligible consumption of acetate in the presence of large amounts of propionate, the presence of acetate considerably stimulated the uptake of propionate with the rate increased by over 60% in comparison to the case where only propionate was present. This property enhances the competitive capability of DvGAOs in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) wastewater treatment systems, given the fact that wastewater typically contains both acetate and propionate. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.