Evaluation of performance and microbial community successional patterns in an integrated OCO reactor under ZnO nanoparticle stress
An integrated OCO reactor was used to investigate the performance and microbial community successional changes under long-term exposure to relatively low levels of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs). Relatively higher concentrations of ZnO NPs (1.5 mg L−1) could adversely affect the nitrogen and phosphorus removal in the reactor. The diversity and richness of the microbial communities chronically declined with an increasing concentration of ZnO NPs higher than 1.5 mg L−1. With the elevated ZnO NPs, the phyla abundances of Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria decreased slightly, whereas those of Bacteroidetes and Acidobacteria increased. Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria were the predominant phyla in each phase (with a variation in abundance), together with some common taxa responses to ZnO NP stress as revealed by Venn diagram analysis. Some genera associated with the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus, such as Acinetobacter, Stenotrophomonas and Pseudomonas, decreased significantly. The present results are significant for expanding our understanding of the functional performance and microbial community successions of activated sludge which has experienced long-term exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of ZnO NPs.