Host: The WDRC Student Committee
Complex microbial communities carry out wastewater treatment, which often includes water reuse, resource recovery, and energy production. A good understanding of identity, function and ecology of the process-critical microbes is important for proper function and management. We have tried to answer following questions: What is the global diversity of microbes across the globe in wastewater treatment plants and how many of these bacteria are important? And what are their main functions and how can we manipulate the community structure? Our recent global study of more than 700 treatment plants has given a comprehensive overview and revealed many novel process-critical species. We have retrieved more than 1000 high-quality metagenome assembled genomes and designed comprehensive sets of FISH probes for the visualization of key species. Highlights of novel species, physiologies, global distributions and drivers for their presence will be discussed. These resources provide a shared vocabulary for wastewater treatment microbiologists, providing new opportunities for cross-study comparisons and ecological studies at high taxonomic resolution.
Per Halkjær Nielsen is professor at the Department of Chemistry and Bioscience at Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark. He is heading the Center for Microbial Communities where they study uncultured microorganisms in natural and engineered systems. Important focus points the past many years have been investigations of structure and function of microbial communities in wastewater treatment, resource recovery and bioenergy production. A main activity is MiDAS, an online fieldguide to the microbiology of wastewater treatment systems. He has been heading the IWA specialist group on microbial ecology and water engineering (2005-2013) and has since been head of the BioCluster, coordinating activities between IWA and ISME.