Get access

Metatranscriptomic array analysis of ‘Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis’-enriched enhanced biological phosphorus removal sludge


E-mail; Tel. (+1) 608 263 3137; Fax (+1) 608 262 5199.


Here we report the first metatranscriptomic analysis of gene expression and regulation of ‘Candidatus Accumulibacter’-enriched lab-scale sludge during enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). Medium density oligonucleotide microarrays were generated with probes targeting most predicted genes hypothesized to be important for the EBPR phenotype. RNA samples were collected at the early stage of anaerobic and aerobic phases (15 min after acetate addition and switching to aeration respectively). We detected the expression of a number of genes involved in the carbon and phosphate metabolisms, as proposed by EBPR models (e.g. polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis, a split TCA cycle through methylmalonyl-CoA pathway, and polyphosphate formation), as well as novel genes discovered through metagenomic analysis. The comparison between the early stage anaerobic and aerobic gene expression profiles showed that expression levels of most genes were not significantly different between the two stages. The majority of upregulated genes in the aerobic sample are predicted to encode functions such as transcription, translation and protein translocation, reflecting the rapid growth phase of Accumulibacter shortly after being switched to aerobic conditions. Components of the TCA cycle and machinery involved in ATP synthesis were also upregulated during the early aerobic phase. These findings support the predictions of EBPR metabolic models that the oxidation of intracellularly stored carbon polymers through the TCA cycle provides ATP for cell growth when oxygen becomes available. Nitrous oxide reductase was among the very few Accumulibacter genes upregulated in the anaerobic sample, suggesting that its expression is likely induced by the deprivation of oxygen.