Widespread detection of Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis, a polyphosphate-accumulating organism, in sediments of the Columbia River estuary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) exploits the metabolism of polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) to remove excess phosphorus (P) from wastewater treatment. Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis (Accumulibacter) is the most abundant and well-studied PAO in EBPR systems. In a previous study, we detected polyphosphates throughout peripheral bay sediments, and hypothesized that an estuary is an ideal setting to evaluate PAOs in a natural system, given that estuaries are characterized by dynamic dissolved oxygen fluctuations that potentially favour PAO metabolism. We detected nucleotide sequences attributable to Accumulibacter (16S rRNA, ppk1) in sediments within three peripheral bays of the Columbia River estuary at abundances rivalling those observed in conventional wastewater treatment plants (0.01%–2.6%). Most of the sequences attributable to Accumulibacter were Type I rather than Type II, despite the fact that the estuary does not have particularly high nutrient concentrations. The highest diversity of Accumulibacter was observed in oligohaline peripheral bays, while the greatest abundances were observed at the mouth of the estuary in mesohaline sediments in the spring and summer. In addition, an approximately 70% increase in polyphosphate concentrations observed at one of the sites between dawn and dusk suggests that PAOs may play an important role in P cycling in estuary sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1369-1382
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this