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Species-level microbiome composition of activated sludge - introducing the MiDAS 3 ecosystem-specific reference database and taxonomy

By Marta Nierychlo, Kasper Skytte Andersen, Yijuan Xu, Nick Green, Mads Albertsen, Morten S. Dueholm, Per Halkjær Nielsen

Posted 14 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/842393

The function of microbial communities in wastewater treatment systems and anaerobic digesters is dictated by the physiological activity of its members and complex interactions between them. Since functional traits are often conserved at low taxonomic ranks (genus, species, strain), the development of high taxonomic resolution and reliable classification is the first crucial step towards understanding the role of microbes in any ecosystem. Here we present MiDAS 3, a comprehensive 16S rRNA gene reference database based on high-quality full-length sequences derived from activated sludge and anaerobic digester systems. The MiDAS 3 taxonomy proposes unique provisional names for all microorganisms down to species level. MiDAS 3 was applied for the detailed analysis of microbial communities in 20 Danish wastewater treatment plants with nutrient removal, sampled over 12 years, demonstrating community stability and many abundant core taxa. The top 50 most abundant species belonged to genera, of which >50% have no known function in the system, emphasizing the need for more efforts towards elucidating the role of important members of wastewater treatment ecosystems. The MiDAS 3 taxonomic database guided an update of the MiDAS Field Guide - an online resource linking the identity of microorganisms in wastewater treatment systems to available data related to their functional importance. The new field guide contains a complete list of genera (>1,800) and species (>4,200) found in activated sludge and anaerobic digesters. The identity of the microbes is linked to functional information, where available. The website also provides the possibility to BLAST the sequences against MiDAS 3 taxonomy directly online. The MiDAS Field Guide is a collaborative platform acting as an online knowledge repository and facilitating understanding of wastewater treatment ecosystem function.

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