In the enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) process, the competition between polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO) and glycogen accumulating organisms (GAO) has been studied intensively in recent years by both microbiologists and engineers, due to its important effects on phosphorus removal performance and efficiency. This study addresses the impact of microbial ecology on assessing the PAO GAO competition through metabolic modelling, focussing on reviewing recent developments, discussion of how the results from molecular studies can impact the way we model the process, and offering perspectives for future research opportunities based on unanswered questions concerning PAO and GAO metabolism. Indeed, numerous findings that are seemingly contradictory could in fact be explained by the metabolic behaviour of different sub-groups of PAOs and/or GAOs exposed to different environmental and operational conditions. Some examples include the glycolysis pathway (i.e. Embden-Meyerhof-Pamas (EMP) vs. Entner-Doudoroff (ED)), denitrification capacity, anaerobic tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle activity and PAOs' ability to adjust their metabolism to e.g. a GAO-like metabolism. Metabolic modelling may further yield far-reaching influences on practical applications as well, and serves as a bridge between molecular/biochemical research studies and the optimisation of waste-water treatment plant operation. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.