The bacterial community composition of the full-scale biologically active, granular activated carbon (BAC) filters operated at the St. Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) was investigated using Illumina MiSeq analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments. These bacterial communities were consistently diverse (Shannon index, >4.4; richness estimates, >1,500 unique operational taxonomic units [OTUs]) throughout the duration of the 12-month study period. In addition, only modest shifts in the quantities of individual bacterial populations were observed; of the 15 most prominent OTUs, the most highly variable population (a Variovorax sp.) modulated less than 13-fold over time and less than 8-fold from filter to filter. The most prominent population in the profiles was a Nitrospira sp., representing 13 to 21% of the community. Interestingly, very few of the known ammonia- oxidizing bacteria (AOB; <0.07%) and no ammonia-oxidizing Archaea were detected in the profiles. Quantitative PCR of amoA genes, however, suggested that AOB were prominent in the bacterial communities (amoA/16S rRNA gene ratio, 1 to 10%). We conclude, therefore, that the BAC filters at the SPRWS potentially contained significant numbers of unidentified and novel ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms that possess amoA genes similar to those of previously described AOB.
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© 2015, American Society for Microbiology.