Re-evaluation of the phylogenetic diversity and global distribution of the genus Candidatus Accumulibacter

Francesca Petriglieri, Caitlin Margaret Singleton, Zivile Kondrotaite, Morten Kam Dahl Dueholm, Elizabeth A. McDaniel, Katherine D. McMahon, Per Halkjær Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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Abstract

Candidatus Accumulibacter was the first microorganism identified as a polyphosphate-accumulating organism (PAO), important for phosphorus removal from wastewater. This genus is diverse, and the current phylogeny and taxonomic framework appears complicated, with the majority of publicly available genomes classified as “Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis”, despite notable phylogenetic divergence. The ppk1 marker gene allows for a finer scale differentiation into different “types” and “clades”, nevertheless taxonomic assignments remain confusing and inconsistent across studies. Therefore, a comprehensive re-evaluation is needed to establish a common understanding of this genus, both in terms of naming and basic conserved physiological traits. Here, we provide this re-assessment using a comparison of genome, ppk1, and 16S rRNA gene-based approaches from comprehensive datasets. We identified 15 novel species, along with the well-known Ca. A. phosphatis, Ca. A. deltensis and Ca. A. aalborgensis. To compare the species in situ, we designed new species-specific FISH probes and revealed their morphology and arrangement in activated sludge. Based on the MiDAS global survey, Ca. Accumulibacter species were widespread in WWTPs with phosphorus removal, indicating the process design as a major driver for their abundance. Genome mining for PAO related pathways and FISH-Raman microspectroscopy confirmed the potential for the PAO metabolism in all Ca. Accumulibacter species, with detection in situ of the typical PAO storage polymers. Genome annotation further revealed fine-scale differences in the nitrate/nitrite reduction pathways. This provides insights into the niche differentiation of these lineages, potentially explaining their coexistence in the same ecosystem while contributing to overall phosphorus and nitrogen removal.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherbioRxiv
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021

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