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Water Research
45, No. 2, 2011; Pages: 694 - 704

Biocontrol of biomass bulking caused by Haliscomenobacter hydrossis using a newly isolated lytic bacteriophage

Shireen M. Kotay, Tania Datta, Jeongdong Choi, Ramesh Goel

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah, 122 S. Central Campus Drive, 104 CME, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.


This research demonstrates the first ever application of lytic bacteriophage (virus) mediated biocontrol of biomass bulking in the activated sludge process using Haliscomenobacter hydrossis as a model filamentous bacterium. Bacteriophages are viruses that specifically infect bacteria only. The lytic phage specifically infecting H. hydrossis was isolated from the mixed liquor of a local wastewater treatment plant. The isolated bacteriophage belongs to the Myoviridae family with a contractile tail (length-126 nm; diameter-18 nm) and icosahedral head (diameter-81 nm). Titer of the isolated phage with H. hydrossis was calculated to be 5.2 ± 0.3 × 105 PFU/mL and burst size was found to be 105 ± 7 PFU/infected cell. The phage was considerably stable after exposure to high temperature (42 °C) and pH between 5 and 8, emphasizing that it can withstand the seasonal/operational fluctuations under real-time applications. Phage to host (bacteria) ratio for the optimal infection was found to be 1:1000 with ∼54% host death. The isolated phage showed no cross infectivity with other bacteria most commonly found in activated sludge systems, thus validating its suitability for biocontrol of filamentous bulking caused by H. hydrossis. Following the phage application, successful reduction in sludge volume index (SVI) from 155 to 105 was achieved, indicating improved biomass settling. The application of phage did not affect nutrient removal efficiency of the biomass, suggesting no collateral damage. Similar to phage therapy in medical applications, phage-mediated biocontrol holds a great potentiality for large-scale applications as economic agent in the mitigation of several water, wastewater and environmental problems. Present study in this direction is a novel effort.

Keywords: H. hydrossis; Filamentous bacteria; Sludge bulking; Bacteriophages; Biocontrol



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