Diversity of Candidatus Patescibacteria in Activated Sludge Revealed by a Size-‍Fractionation Approach

Microbes Environ. 2022;37(2):ME22027. doi: 10.1264/jsme2.ME22027.


Uncultivated members of Candidatus Patescibacteria are commonly found in activated sludge treating sewage and are widely distributed in wastewater treatment plants in different regions and countries. However, the phylogenetic diversity of Ca. Patescibacteria is difficult to examine because of their low relative abundance in the environment. Since Ca. Patescibacteria members have small cell sizes, we herein collected small microorganisms from activated sludge using a filtration-based size-fractionation approach (i.e., 0.45-0.22‍ ‍μm and 0.22-0.1‍ ‍μm fractions). Fractionated samples were characterized using 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun metagenomic sequence ana-lyses. The amplicon ana-lysis revealed that the relative abundance of Ca. Patescibacteria increased to 73.5% and 52.5% in the 0.45-0.22‍ ‍μm and 0.22-0.1‍ ‍μm fraction samples, respectively, from 5.8% in the unfractionated sample. The members recovered from the two size-fractionated samples included Ca. Saccharimonadia, Ca. Gracilibacteria, Ca. Paceibacteria, Ca. Microgenomatia, class-level uncultured lineage ABY1, Ca. Berkelbacteria, WS6 (Ca. Dojkabacteria), and WWE3, with Ca. Saccharimonadia being predominant in both fraction samples. The number of operational taxonomic units belonging to Ca. Patescibacteria was approximately 6-fold higher in the size-fractionated samples than in the unfractionated sample. The shotgun metagenomic ana-lysis of the 0.45-0.22‍ ‍μm fractioned sample enabled the reconstruction of 24 high-quality patescibacterial bins. The bins obtained were classified into diverse clades at the family and genus levels, some of which were rarely detected in previous activated sludge studies. Collectively, the present results suggest that the overall diversity of Ca. Patescibacteria inhabiting activated sludge is higher than previously expected.

Keywords: Candidatus Patescibacteria; activated sludge; candidate phyla radiation; diversity; size fractionation.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria* / genetics
  • Metagenome
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sewage* / microbiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Sewage