Microbial communities involved in enhanced biological phosphorus removal from wastewater--a model system in environmental biotechnology

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Jun;23(3):452-9. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.11.027. Epub 2011 Dec 23.


Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is one of the most advanced and complicated wastewater treatment processes applied today, and it is becoming increasingly popular worldwide as a sustainable way to remove and potentially reuse P. It is carried out by complex microbial communities consisting primarily of uncultured microorganisms. The EBPR process is a well-studied system with clearly defined boundaries which makes it very suitable as a model ecosystem in microbial ecology. Of particular importance are the transformations of C, N, and P, the solid-liquid separation properties and the functional and structural stability. A range of modern molecular methods has been used to study these communities in great detail including single cell microbiology, various -omics methods, flux analyses, and modeling making this one of the best studied microbial ecosystems so far. Recently, an EBPR core microbiome has been described and we present in this article some highlights and show how this complex microbial community can be used as model ecosystem in environmental biotechnology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Ecosystem
  • Metagenome*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorus*
  • Waste Water / chemistry*
  • Waste Water / microbiology*
  • Water Purification*


  • Waste Water
  • Phosphorus