Metabolic differentiation of co-occurring accumulibacter clades revealed through genome-resolved metatranscriptomics

Elizabeth A. McDaniel*, Francisco Moya-Flores*, Natalie Keene Beach, Pamela Y. Camejo, Ben O. Oyserman, Matthew Kizaric, Eng Hoe Khor, Daniel R. Noguera, Katherine D. McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Natural microbial communities consist of closely related taxa that may exhibit phenotypic differences and inhabit distinct niches. However, connecting genetic diversity to ecological properties remains a challenge in microbial ecology due to the lack of pure cultures across the microbial tree of life. "Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis"(Accumulibacter) is a polyphosphate-accumulating organism that contributes to the enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) biotechnological process for removing excess phosphorus from wastewater and preventing eutrophication from downstream receiving waters. Distinct Accumulibacter clades often coexist in full-scale wastewater treatment plants and laboratory-scale enrichment bioreactors and have been hypothesized to inhabit distinct ecological niches. However, since individual strains of the Accumulibacter lineage have not been isolated in pure culture to date, these predictions have been made solely on genome-based comparisons and enrichments with varying strain compositions. Here, we used genome-resolved metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to explore the activity of coexisting Accumulibacter strains in an engineered bioreactor environment. We obtained four high-quality genomes of Accumulibacter strains that were present in the bioreactor ecosystem, one of which is a completely contiguous draft genome scaffolded with long Nanopore reads. We identified core and accessory genes to investigate how gene expression patterns differed among the dominating strains. Using this approach, we were able to identify putative pathways and functions that may confer distinct functions to Accumulibacter strains and provide key functional insights into this biotechnologically significant microbial lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00474-21
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • EBPR
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Genomics
  • Metagenomics
  • Metatranscriptomics


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