What is it about?

The microbial community plays a crucial role in nutrient cycling in all of Earth's ecosystems. In wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) and sewage sludge treatment plants (SSTP), microorganisms are the main agents used to remediate hazardous waste. Due to the wide genetic and metabolic diversity, microorganisms are highly efficient bioactive systems in the remediation of pollutants. In Brazil the composition of sewage sludge is widely varied, this often requires the combination of different approaches to ensure effective treatment of the material. Aerobic and anaerobic bioreactors or their combination are the most widely used approaches in the country. However, little is known about the microbiology of sewage sludge. Understanding the composition and population dynamics of the sludge microbiota is essential since this information allows us to infer about the biological processes that are taking place within the bioreactor.

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Why is it important?

Sewage sludges generation and their disposal have become one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. They have great microbial diversity that may impact wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) efficiency and soil quality whether used as fertilizers. Therefore, this research aimed to characterize microbial community diversity and structure of 19 sewage sludges from São Paulo, Brazil, as well as to draw their relations to sludge sources [domestic and mixed (domestic + industrial)], biological treatments (redox conditions and liming), and chemical attributes, using molecular biology as a tool.


Knowledge of the composition, population dynamics, and relationship with the source, type of treatment and chemical attributes of sewage sludge is essential to ensure WWTP performance. The abundance of different groups of microorganisms in the sewage sludge microbial community may be indicative of specific biological processes associated with nutrient cycling, hazardous substance removal, and pathogen elimination.

Adijailton Jose de Souza
Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture / University of São Paulo

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Sewage Sludge Microbial Structures and Relations to Their Sources, Treatments, and Chemical Attributes, Frontiers in Microbiology, July 2018, Frontiers, DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01462.
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