Assessment of microbial community structure changes by amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA)

Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) is a simple method based on restriction endonuclease digestion of the amplified bacterial 16S rDNA. In this study we have evaluated the suitability of this method to detect differences in activated sludge bacterial communities fed on domestic or industrial wastewater, and subject to different operational conditions. The ability of ARDRA to detect these differences has been tested in modified Ludzack-Ettinger (MLE) configurations. Samples from three activated sludge wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with the MLE configuration were collected for both oxic and anoxic reactors, and ARDRA patterns using double enzyme digestions AluI+MspI were obtained. A matrix of Dice similarity coefficients was calculated and used to compare these restriction patterns. Differences in the community structure due to influent characteristics and temperature could be observed, but not between the oxic and anoxic reactors of each of the three MLE configurations. Other possible applications of ARDRA for detecting and monitoring changes in activated sludge systems are also discussed ​
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