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Free-living bacteria and potential bacterial pathogens in sewage treatment plants

Huang, Kailong, Mao, Yanping, Zhao, Fuzheng, Zhang, Xu-Xiang, Ju, Feng, Ye, Lin, Wang, Yulin, Li, Bing, Ren, Hongqiang, Zhang, Tong
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2018 v.102 no.5 pp. 2455-2464
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, activated sludge, bacteria, disinfection, metagenomics, pathogens, sewage, sewage treatment
To comprehensively understand the profile of free-living bacteria and potential bacterial pathogens in sewage treatment plants (STPs), this study applied high-throughput sequencing-based metagenomics approaches to investigate the effects of activated sludge (AS) treatment process and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection on the community of bacterial pathogens in two full-scale STPs. A total of 23 bacterial genera were identified as free-living bacteria, and 243 species/OTU₉₇% were identified as potential bacterial pathogens, 6 of which were confidently detected in the STPs (with the total abundances ranging from 0.02 to 14.19%). Both diversity and relative abundance of the detected bacterial pathogens decreased obviously after AS treatment process (p < 0.05), and increased slightly after sedimentation (p < 0.05). UV disinfection shows no obvious effects on the total relative abundance of the free-living pathogenic bacteria in sewage. Although large amounts of the particle-bound pathogens were eliminated through the sewage treatment process, the STPs could not effectively remove the free-living bacterial pathogens, and some pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Pseudomonas aeruginosa) present in the effluent had higher relative abundance after UV disinfection. Overall, the results extend our knowledge regarding the community of potential pathogens (especially free-living pathogens) in STPs.