Main content area

Microbial biomass, activity and community composition in constructed wetlands

Truu, Marika, Juhanson, Jaanis, Truu, Jaak
Science of the total environment 2009 v.407 no.13 pp. 3958-3971
bacterial communities, community structure, constructed wetlands, environmental factors, microbial activity, microbial biomass, overland flow, soil, subsurface flow
The aim of the current article is to give an overview about microbial communities and their functioning but also about factors affecting microbial activity in the three most common types (surface flow and two types of sub-surface flow) of constructed wetlands. The paper reviews the community composition and structural diversity of the microbial biomass, analyzing different aspects of microbial activity with respect to wastewater properties, specific wetland type, and environmental parameters. A brief introduction about the application of different novel molecular techniques for the assessment of microbial communities in constructed wetlands is also given. Microbially mediated processes in constructed wetlands are mainly dependent on hydraulic conditions, wastewater properties, including substrate and nutrient quality and availability, filter material or soil type, plants, and different environmental factors. Microbial biomass is within similar ranges in both horizontal and vertical subsurface flow and surface flow constructed wetlands. Stratification of the biomass but also a stratified structural pattern of the bacterial community can be seen in subsurface flow systems. Microbial biomass C/N ratio is higher in horizontal flow systems compared to vertical flow systems, indicating the structural differences in microbial communities between those two constructed wetland types. The total activity of the microbial community is in the same range, but heterotrophic growth is higher in the subsurface (vertical flow) system compared to the surface flow systems. Available species-specific data about microbial communities in different types of wetlands is scarce and therefore it is impossible make any general conclusions about the dynamics of microbial community structure in wetlands, its relationship to removal processes and operational parameters.