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The use of molecular probe technology is demonstrated for routine identification and tracking of cultured and uncultured microorganisms in an activated sludge bioreactor treating domestic wastewater. A key advantage of molecular probe technology is that it can interrogate hundreds of microbial species of interest in a single measurement. In environmental niches where a single genus (such as Competibacteraceae) dominates, it can be difficult and expensive to identify microorganisms that are present at low relative abundance. With molecular probe technology, it is straightforward. Members of the Competibacteraceae family, none of which have been grown in pure culture, are abundant in an activated sludge system in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. Molecular probe ensembles with and without Competibacteraceae probes were constructed. Whereas the probe ensemble with Competibacteraceae probes identified a total of ten bacteria, the molecular probe ensemble without Competibacteraceae probes identified 29 bacteria, including many at low relative abundance and including some species of public health significance. Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


Weihong Xu, Veronica R Brand, Sundari Suresh, Michael A Jensen, Ronald W Davis, Craig S Criddle, Robert P St Onge, Richard W Hyman. Community members in activated sludge as determined by molecular probe technology. Water research. 2020 Jan 01;168:115104

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PMID: 31639592

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