Obtaining highly enriched cultures of Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphates through alternating carbon sources

Huabing Lu, Adrian Michael Oehmen, Bernardino Virdis, Jurg Keller, Zhiguo Yuan

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213 Citations (Scopus)


Candidatus Accumulibacter Phosphatis is widely considered to be a polyphosphate accumulating organism (PAO) of prime importance in enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) systems. This organism has yet to be isolated, despite many attempts. Previous studies on the biochemical and physiological aspects of this organism, as well as its response to different EBPR operational conditions, have generally relied on the use of mixed culture enrichments. One frequent problem in obtaining highly enriched cultures of this organism is the proliferation of glycogen accumulating organisms (GAO) that can compete with PAOs for limited carbon sources under similar operational conditions. In this study, Candidatus Accumulibacter Phosphatis has been enriched in a lab-scale bioreactor to a level greater than 90% as quantified by fluorescence in situ hyrbridisation (FISH). This is the highest enrichment of this organism that has been reported thus far, and was obtained by alternating the sole carbon source in the feed between acetate and propionate every one to two sludge ages, and operating the bioreactor within a pH range of 7.0-8.0. Simultaneously, the presence of two known groups of GAOs was eliminated under these operational conditions. Excellent phosphorus removal performance and stability were maintained in this system, where the phosphorous concentration in the effluent was below 0.2 mg/L for more than 7 months. When a disturbance was introduced to this system by adding sludge from an enriched GAO culture, Candidatus Accumulibacter Phosphatis once again became highly enriched, while the GAOs were out-competed. This feeding strategy is recommended for future studies focused on describing the physiology and biochemistry of Accumulibacter, where a highly-enriched culture of this organism is of high importance. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3838-3848
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Candidatus Accumulibacter PhosphatisEnhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR)Fluorescence in situ hyrbridisation (FISH)Glycogen accumulating organisms (GAO)Polyphosphate accumulating organisms (PAO)
  • Volatile fatty acids (VFA)


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