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Spatial and temporal variability of bacterial communities within a combined sewer system

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Catherine BiggsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This study describes the temporal and spatial variability of bacterial communities within a combined sewer system in England. Sampling was conducted over 9 months in a sewer system with intensive monitoring of hydraulic conditions. The bacterial communities were characterized by 16S rRNA gene‐targeted terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. These data were related to the hydraulic data as well as the sample type, location, and time. Temporal and spatial variation was observed between and within wastewater communities and biofilm communities. The bacterial communities in biofilm were distinctly different from the communities in wastewater and exhibited greater spatial variation, while the wastewater communities exhibited variability between different months of sampling. This study highlights the variation of bacterial communities between biofilm and wastewater, and has shown both spatial and temporal variations in bacterial communities in combined sewers. The temporal variation is of interest for in‐sewer processes, for example, sewer odor generation, as field measurements for these processes are often carried out over short durations and may therefore not capture the influence of this temporal variation of the bacterial communities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jensen H, Sekar R, Shepherd WJ, Osborn AM, Tait S, Biggs CA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Microbiology Open

Year: 2016

Volume: 5

Issue: 4

Pages: 616-625

Print publication date: 01/08/2016

Online publication date: 10/04/2016

Acceptance date: 03/03/2016

Date deposited: 26/06/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2045-8827

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


DOI: 10.1002/mbo3.356


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Funder referenceFunder name
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant number EP/I029346/1)
EU Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge program (no. 42444)