Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.118, No.1, 433-441, 2021
Targeted metagenomics reveals extensive diversity of the denitrifying community in partial nitritation anammox and activated sludge systems
The substantial presence of denitrifiers has already been reported in partial nitritation anammox (PNA) systems using the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene, but little is known about the phylogenetic diversity based on denitrification pathway functional genes. Therefore, we performed a metagenomic analysis to determine the distribution of denitrification genes and the associated phylogeny in PNA systems and whether a niche separation between PNA and conventional activated sludge (AS) systems exists. The results revealed a distinct abundance pattern of denitrification pathway genes and their association to the microbial species between PNA and AS systems. In contrast, the taxonomic analysis, based on the 16S rRNA gene, did not detect notable variability in denitrifying community composition across samples. In general, narG and nosZa2 genes were dominant in all samples. While the potential for different stages of denitrification was redundant, variation in species composition and lack of the complete denitrification gene pool in each species appears to confer niche separation between PNA and AS systems. This study suggests that targeted metagenomics can help to determine the denitrifying microbial composition at a fine-scale resolution while overcoming current biases in quantitative polymerase chain reaction approaches due to a lack of appropriate primers.