The nitrogen cycle has been expanded with the recent discovery of Nitrospira strains that can conduct complete ammonium oxidation (commamox). Their importance in the nitrogen cycle within engineered ecosystems has not yet been analyzed. In this research, the community structure of the Bacteria domain of six full-scale activated sludge systems and three autotrophic nitrogen removal systems in the Netherlands and China has been investigated through tag-454-pyrosequencing. The phylogenetic analyses conducted in the present study showed that just a few of the Nitrospira sequences found in the bioreactors were comammox. Multivariate redundancy analysis of nitrifying genera showed an outcompetition of Nitrosomonas and non-comammox Nitrospira. Operational data from the bioreactors suggested that comammox could be favored at low temperature, low nitrogen substrate, and high dissolved oxygen. The non-ubiquity and low relative abundance of comammox in full-scale bioreactors suggested that this phylotype is not very relevant in the nitrogen cycle in wastewater treatment plants.
- Activated sludge