Bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) affect plant functionality through their role in the removal of pollutants from wastewater. Bacterial communities vary extensively based on plant operating conditions and influent characteristics. The capacity of WWTPs can also affect the bacterial community via variations in the organic or nutrient composition of the influent. Despite the importance considering capacity, the characteristics that control bacterial community assembly are largely unknown. In this study, we discovered that bacterial communities in WWTPs in Korea and Vietnam, which differ remarkably in capacity, exhibit unique structures and interactions that are governed mainly by the capacity of WWTPs. Bacterial communities were analysed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and exhibited clear differences between the two regions, with these differences being most pronounced in activated sludge. We found that capacity contributed the most to bacterial interactions and community structure, whereas other factors had less impact. Co-occurrence network analysis showed that microorganisms from high-capacity WWTPs are more interrelated than those from low-capacity WWTPs, which corresponds to the tighter clustering of bacterial communities in Korea. These results will contribute to the understanding of bacterial community assembly in activated sludge processing.
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