Molecular analyses of pure cultures of filamentous bacteria isolated from activated sludge
The activated sludge process is the mostl used biological treatment process. Engineers and microbiologists are constantly seeking ways to improve process efficiency, which can be attributed to the increasing demand for fresh water supplies and proper environmental management. Since the inception of the activated sludge process, bulking and foaming have been major problems affecting its efficiency. Filamentous bacteria have been identified as the primary cause of bulking and foaming. Numerous attempts have been made to resolve this problem. Some of these attempts were effective as interim measures but failed as long term control strategies. The identification of filamentous bacteria and the study of their physiology have been hampered by the unreliability of conventional microbiological techniques. This is largely due to their morphological variations and inconsistent characteristics within different environments. To fully understand their role in promoting bulking and foaming, filamentous bacteria need to be characterized on a molecular level. The aim of this study was, therefore, to identify filamentous bacteria in pure culture with the purpose of validating these findings to the physiological traits of the pure cultures when they were isolated. Fourteen different filamentous cultures were used for this study. The cultures were identified using specific oligonucleotide probes via fluorescent in situ hybridisation and nucleotide sequencing. Prior to sequencing, an agarose gel and a denaturing gradient gel Electrophoresis profile were determined for each isolate. The various techniques were optimised specifically for the filamentous isolates. The isolates were identified as Gordonia amarae, Haliscomenobacter hydrossis, Acinetobacter sp./Type 1863, Type 021N, Thiothrix nivea, Sphaerotilus natans and Nocardioform organisms.