Genome sequencing as a new window into the microbial community of membrane bioreactors – A critical review

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Journal Article
Science of the Total Environment, 2020, 704
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Recent developed sequencing techniques have resulted in a new and unprecedented way to study biological wastewater treatment, in which most organisms are uncultivable. This review provides (i) an insight on state-of-the-art sequencing techniques and their limitations; (ii) a critical assessment of the microbial community in biological reactor and biofouling layer in a membrane bioreactor (MBR). The data from high-throughput sequencing has been used to infer microbial growth conditions and metabolisms of microorganisms present in MBRs at the time of sampling. These data shed new insight to two fundamental questions about a microbial community in the MBR process namely the microbial composition (who are they?) and the functions of each specific microbial assemblage (what are their function?). The results to date also highlight the complexity of the microbial community growing on MBRs. Environmental conditions are dynamic and diverse, and can influence the diversity and structural dynamics of any given microbial community for wastewater treatment. The benefits of understanding the structure of microbial communities on three major aspects of the MBR process (i.e. nutrient removal, biofouling control, and micropollutant removal) were symmetrically delineated. This review also indicates that the deployment of microbial community analysis for a practical engineering context, in terms of process design and system optimization, can be further realized.
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