Quantifying Filamentous Microorganisms in Activated Sludge before, during, and after an Incident of Foaming by Oligonucleotide Probe Hybridizations and Antibody Staining


Quantitative oligonucleotide probe hybridizations, immunostaining, and a simple foaming potential test were used to follow an incident of seasonal filamentous foaming at the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District, Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant. A positive correlation was observed between an increase in foaming potential and the appearance of foam on the surfaces of aeration basins and secondary clarifiers. In addition, during the occurrence of foaming, the mass and activity of Gordonia spp. increased as measured by fluorescence in situ hybridization, antibody staining, and quantitative membrane hybridization of RNA extracts. An increase in Gordonia spp. rRNA levels from 0.25 to 1.4% of total rRNA was observed using quantitative membrane hybridizations, whereas during the same period, the fraction of mixed liquor volatile suspended solids attributed to Gordonia spp. increased from 4% to more than 32% of the total mixed liquor volatile suspended solids. These results indicate that both the activity and biomass level of Gordonia spp. in activated sludge increased relative to the activity and the biomass level of the complete microbial community during a seasonal occurrence of filamentous foaming. Thus, Gordonia spp. may represent a numerically dominant but metabolically limited fraction of the total biomass, and the role of Gordonia spp. in filamentous foaming may be linked more tightly to the physical presence of filamentous microorganisms than to the metabolic activity of the cells.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Biomass; Metabolism; Sewage sludge; Suspensions (components); Water treatment plants; ribosome RNA; foaming; measurement method; microorganism; wastewater treatment plant; activated sludge; aeration; bacterial count; correlation function; fluorescence in situ hybridization; foam; immunohistochemistry; microbial growth; priority journal; season; waste water treatment plant; Actinomycetales; Antibodies; Immunoblotting; Oligonucleotide Probes; RNA, Ribosomal; Seasons; Sewage; Water Purification

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Article - Journal

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© 2001 Elsevier Limited, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2001