• Simultaneous nitrification denitrification;
  • Microsensors;
  • Aggregates;
  • Nitrous oxide


The microbial community composition and activity was investigated in aggregates from a lab-scale bioreactor, in which nitrification, denitrification and phosphorus removal occurred simultaneously. The biomass was highly enriched for polyphosphate accumulating organisms facilitating complete removal of phosphorus from the bulk liquid; however, some inorganic nitrogen still remained at the end of the reactor cycle. This was ascribed to incomplete coupling of nitrification and denitrification causing inline image accumulation. After 2 h of aeration, denitrification was dependent on the activity of nitrifying bacteria facilitating the formation of anoxic zones in the aggregates; hence, denitrification could not occur without simultaneous nitrification towards the end of the reactor cycle. Nitrous oxide was identified as a product of denitrification, when based on stored PHA as carbon source. This observation is of critical importance to the outlook of applying PHA-driven denitrification in activated sludge processes.