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Keywords:

  • enhanced biological phosphorus removal;
  • polyphosphate;
  • polyhydroxyalkanoate;
  • secondary transport;
  • substrate uptake

Abstract

The bacteria facilitating enhanced biological phosphorus removal gain a selective advantage from intracellularly stored polymer-driven substrate uptake under anaerobic conditions during sequential anaerobic : aerobic cycling. Mechanisms for these unusual membrane transport processes were proposed and experimentally validated using selective inhibitors and highly-enriched cultures of a polyphosphate-accumulating organism, Accumulibacter, and a glycogen-accumulating organism, Competibacter. Acetate uptake by both Accumulibacter and Competibacter was driven by a proton motive force (PMF). Stored polymers were used to generate the PMF –Accumulibacter used phosphate efflux through the Pit transporter, while Competibacter generated a PMF by proton efflux through the ATPase and fumarate reductase in the reductive TCA cycle.