Bacterial community dynamics within an aerobic granular sludge reactor treating wastewater loaded with pharmaceuticals
Abstract Pharmaceuticals are micropollutants often present in wastewater treatment systems. In this study, the potential impact of such micropollutants on the bacterial population within aerobic granular sludge (AGS) bioreactor was investigated. The AGS bacterial community structure and composition were accessed combining DGGE fingerprinting and barcoded pyrosequencing analysis. Both revealed the existence of a dynamic bacterial community, independently of the pharmaceuticals presence. The AGS microbiome at both phylum and class levels varied over time and, after stopping pharmaceuticals feeding, the bacterial community did not return to its initial composition. Nevertheless, most of the assigned OTUs were present throughout the different operational phases. This core microbiome, represented by over 72% of the total sequences in each phase, probably played an important role in biological removal processes, avoiding their failure during the disturbance period. Quantitative-PCR revealed that pharmaceuticals load led to gradual changes on the abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) and polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAO) but their persistence during that phase demonstrated the resilience of such bacterial groups. AGS microbiome changed over time but a core community was maintained, probably ensuring the accomplishment of the main biological removal processes. Highlights The Aerobic Granular Sludge was exposed to wastewater amended with pharmaceuticals. The bacterial community was dynamic, independently of the pharmaceuticals presence. Most of the assigned OTUs belong to the core microbiome. AOB, NOB and PAO-specific genes persisted within system during pharmaceuticals load. Bacterial population changed but the process operational resilience was ensured. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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