Journal of Applied & Environmental Microbiology
ISSN (Print): 2373-6747 ISSN (Online): 2373-6712 Website: Editor-in-chief: Sankar Narayan Sinha
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Applied & Environmental Microbiology. 2015, 3(3), 75-81
DOI: 10.12691/jaem-3-3-3
Open AccessArticle

In situ Identification of Filamentous Bacteria from Activated Sludge Wastewater Treatment Plants in Ghana

Melvin-Guy Adonadaga1, 2, and Marion Martienssen1

1Department of Biotechnology for Water Treatment, Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Process Engineering, Brandenburg University of Technology, 03046 Cottbus, Germany

2Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University for Development Studies, Navrongo, Ghana

Pub. Date: August 24, 2015

Cite this paper:
Melvin-Guy Adonadaga and Marion Martienssen. In situ Identification of Filamentous Bacteria from Activated Sludge Wastewater Treatment Plants in Ghana. Journal of Applied & Environmental Microbiology. 2015; 3(3):75-81. doi: 10.12691/jaem-3-3-3


Filamentous bacteria are important in the activated sludge process as they contribute to proper solids-liquid separation in the secondary clarifier by providing a skeletal matrix for the formation of compact flocs. Morphological and molecular techniques were applied over a one-year period to comprehensively identify filamentous bacteria in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Ghana. Several morphologically distinguishable filamentous microorganisms were observed and in most cases, microscopic characteristics of these organisms were in close agreement with those described in published keys. The presence of Haliscomenobacter hydrossis, Thiothrix nivea, Sphaerotilus natans, Nostocoida limicola II, Eikelboom Type 1851 and members of the Eikelboom Type 021N group II was subsequently confirmed based on hybridization with their respective oligonucleotide probes. Filaments were not unique to each plant, with higher filament diversity in industrial compared to municipal plants. Additionally, the results revealed that although geographic differences have no significant effect on filament morphology, they likely play a limiting role in the occurrence of specific filaments.

activated sludge process; filamentous bacteria identification; effect of geographic differences; Ghana

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Figure of 2


[1]  A. M. P. Martins, K. Pagilla, J. J. Heijnen, and M. C. M. van Loosdrecht, “Filamentous bulking sludge--a critical review.,” Water Res., vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 793-817, Feb. 2004.
[2]  G. Bitton, Wastewater Microbiology, 3rd ed. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2005.
[3]  J. Guo, Y. Peng, S. Wang, X. Yang, Z. Wang, and A. Zhu, “Stable limited filamentous bulking through keeping the competition between floc-formers and filaments in balance.,” Bioresour. Technol., vol. 103, no. 1, pp. 7-15, Jan. 2012.
[4]  D. H. Eikelboom, “Filamentous organisms observed in activated sludge,” vol. 9, no. 1970, 1975.
[5]  D. H. Eikelboom, Process control of activated sludge plants by microscopic investigation. IWA Publishing, 2000.
[6]  G. T. D. David Jenkins, Michael G. Richards, Manual on the causes and control of activated sludge bulking, foaming, and other solids separation problems, Third edit. florida: lewis publishers, 2004.
[7]  M. Wagner, R. Amann, P. Kämpfer, B. Assmus, A. Hartmann, P. Hutzler, N. Springer, and K.-H. Schleifer, “Identification and in situ Detection of Gram-negative Filamentous Bacteria in Activated Sludge,” Syst. Appl. Microbiol., vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 405-417, Nov. 1994.
[8]  T. R. Ramothokang, D. Naidoo, and F. Bux, “‘Morphological shifts’ in filamentous bacteria isolated from activated sludge processes,” World J. Microbiol. Biotechnol., vol. 22, no. 8, pp. 845-850, Feb. 2006.
[9]  P. Kämpfer, “Detection and cultivation of filamentous bacteria from activated sludge.,” FEMS Microbiol. Ecol., vol. 23, pp. 169-181, 1997.
[10]  P. N. DeLong EF, Wickham GS, “Phylogenetic stains: ribosomal RNA based probes for the identification of single cells.,” Science (80-. )., vol. 243, pp. 1360-1363, 1989.
[11]  K. H. Amann, R.I., Ludwig, W., Schleifer, “Phylogenetic identification and in-situ detection of individual microbial-cells without cultivation.,” Microbiol. Rev., vol. 1, no. 59, pp. 143-169, 1995.
[12]  R. Amann, B. M. Fuchs, and S. Behrens, “The identification of microorganisms by fluorescence in situ hybridisation,” Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 231-236, Jun. 2001.
[13]  T. Kanagawa, Y. Kamagata, S. Aruga, T. Kohno, M. Horn, and M. Wagner, “Phylogenetic analysis of and oligonucleotide probe development for eikelboom type 021N filamentous bacteria isolated from bulking activated sludge.,” Appl. Environ. Microbiol., vol. 66, no. 11, pp. 5043-52, Nov. 2000.
[14]  A. T. Mielczarek, C. Kragelund, P. S. Eriksen, and P. H. Nielsen, “Population dynamics of filamentous bacteria in Danish wastewater treatment plants with nutrient removal.,” Water Res., vol. 46, no. 12, pp. 3781-95, Aug. 2012.
[15]  J. Van Der Waarde, “Molecular monitoring of bulking sludge in industrial wastewater treatment plants,” … Act. Sludge …, pp. 551-558, 2002.
[16]  X. Shi, B. & Xia, “Morphological changes of Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes in response to temperature selection.,” Curr. Microbiol. ., vol. 46, pp. 120-123, 2003.
[17]  A. Adamse, “Some characteristics of arthrobacters from a dairy waste activated sludge,” Water Res., vol. 4, pp. 797-803, 1970.
[18]  R. I. Amann, “In situ identification of micro-organisms by whole cell hybridization with rRNA-targeted nucleic acid probes,” in Molecular microbial ecology manual, 1st edn., F. J. D. B. Antoon D.L Ankkermans, Jan Dirk Van Elses, Ed. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995.
[19]  M. Loy, A., Maixner, F., Wagner, M., Horn, “ProbeBase-an online resource for rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes: new features 2007. Nucleic Acids Research 35 (Database issue), D800-D804.,” 2007.
[20]  R. I. Amann, W. Ludwig, K. H. Schleifer, R. I. Amann, and W. Ludwig, “Phylogenetic identification and in situ detection of individual microbial cells without cultivation . Phylogenetic Identification and In Situ Detection of Individual Microbial Cells without Cultivation,” vol. 59, no. 1, 1995.
[21]  J. R. Liu and R. J. Seviour, “Design and application of oligonucleotide probes for fluorescent in situ identification of the filamentous bacterial morphotype Nostocoida limicola in activated sludge,” Environ. Microbiol., vol. 3, no. 9, pp. 551-560, Sep. 2001.
[22]  E. M. Seviour, C. Williamso, B. Degrey, J. A. Soddell, R. J. Seviour, and K. C. Lindrea, “Studies on filamentous bacteria from Australian activated sludge plants,” vol. 28, no. I, pp. 2335-2342, 1994.
[23]  P. Madoni, D. Davoli, and G. Gibin, “Survey of filamentous microorganisms from bulking and foaming activated-sludge plants in Italy,” vol. 34, no. 6, 2000.
[24]  T. Ramothokang, G. Drysdale, and F. Bux, “Isolation and cultivation of filamentous bacteria implicated in activated sludge bulking,” Water Sa, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 405-410, 2004.
[25]  Beer et al, M., “Phylogeny of the filamentous bacterium Eikelboom Type 1851, and design and application of a 16S rRNA targeted oligonucleotide probe for its fluorescence in situ identification in activated sludge.,” FEMS Microbiol. Lett., vol. 207, pp. 179-183, 2002.
[26]  K. Kohno, T., Be, And K. Mori, “Characterization of type 1851 organism isolated from activated sludge samples.,” Water Sci Technol, vol. 46, no. 1-2, pp. 111-114, 2002.
[27]  B. Eikelboom, D H & Geurkink, “Filamentous micro-organisms observed in industrial activated sludge plants,” Water Sci. Technol., vol. 46, pp. 535-542, 2002.
[28]  J. Krhutkova, O., Ruzickova, I., Wanner, “Microbial evaluation of activated sludge and filamentous population at eight Czech nutrient removal activated sludge plants during year 2000.,” Water Sci. Technol. 46 (1-2), 471-478., vol. 46, no. 1-2, pp. 471-478, 2002.
[29]  A. van der Waarde, J., Krooneman, J., Geurkink, B., van der Werf and V. Eikelboom, D., Beimfohr, C., Snaidr, J., Levantesi, C. & Tandoi, “Molecular monitoring of bulking sludge in industrial wastewater treatment plants.,” Water Sci Technol 46, vol. 46, pp. 551-556, 2002.
[30]  C. Kragelund, C. Levantesi, A. Borger, K. Thelen, D. Eikelboom, V. Tandoi, Y. Kong, J. Krooneman, P. Larsen, T. R. Thomsen, and P. H. Nielsen, “Identity, abundance and ecophysiology of filamentous bacteria belonging to the Bacteroidetes present in activated sludge plants.,” Microbiology, vol. 154, no. Pt 3, pp. 886-94, Mar. 2008.
[31]  S. Rossetti, “Phylogenetic and physiological characterization of a heterotrophic, chemolithoautotrophic Thiothrix strain isolated from activated sludge,” Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol., vol. 53, no. 5, pp. 1271-1276, Sep. 2003.
[32]  P. H. Kristensen, G.H., Jørgensen, P.E. and Nielsen, “Settling characteristics for activated sludge in Danish treatment plants with biological nutrient removal.,” Water Sci. Technol., vol. 29, pp. 157-165, 1994.
[33]  M. F. Miana, P., L. Grando, G. Caravello, “Microthrix parvicella foaming at the Fusina WWTP.,” Water Sci. Technol., vol. 46, no. 1-2, pp. 499-502, 2002.
[34]  C. Mamais, D., Andreadakis, A., Noutsopoulos, C. and Kalergis, “Causes of, and control strategies for Microthrix parvicella bulking and foaming in nutrient removal activated sludge systems.,” Water Sci. Technol., vol. 37, pp. 9-17, 1998.