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Radiolabelled proteomics to determine differential functioning of Accumulibacter during the anaerobic and aerobic phases of a bioreactor operating for enhanced biological phosphorus removal

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*E-mail m.wexler@uea.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) 1603 593534; Fax (+44) 1603 592250.

Summary

Proteins synthesized by the mixed microbial community of two sequencing batch reactors run for enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) during aerobic and anaerobic reactor phases were compared, using mass spectrometry-based proteomics and radiolabelling. Both sludges were dominated by polyphosphate-accumulating organisms belonging to Candidatis Accumulibacter and the majority of proteins identified matched closest to these bacteria. Enzymes from the Embden–Meyerhof–Parnas pathway were identified, suggesting this is the major glycolytic pathway for these Accumulibacter populations. Enhanced aerobic synthesis of glyoxylate cycle enzymes suggests this cycle is important during the aerobic phase of EBPR. In one sludge, several TCA cycle enzymes showed enhanced aerobic synthesis, suggesting this cycle is unimportant anaerobically. The second sludge showed enhanced synthesis of TCA cycle enzymes under anaerobic conditions, suggesting full or partial TCA cycle operation anaerobically. A phylogenetic analysis of Accumulibacter polyphosphate kinase genes from each sludge demonstrated different Accumulibacter populations dominated the two sludges. Thus, TCA cycle activity differences may be due to Accumulibacter strain differences. The major fatty acids present in Accumulibacter-dominated sludge include palmitic, hexadecenoic and cis-vaccenic acid and fatty acid content increased by approximately 20% during the anaerobic phase. We hypothesize that this is associated with increased anaerobic phospholipid membrane biosynthesis, to accommodate intracellular polyhydroxyalkanoate granules.

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