Conventional processes (coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration) are widely used in drinking water treatment plants and are considered a good treatment strategy to eliminate cyanobacterial cells and cell-bound cyanotoxins. The diversity of cyanobacteria was investigated using taxonomic cell counts and shotgun metagenomics over two seasons in a drinking water treatment plant before, during, and after the bloom. Changes in the community structure over time at the phylum, genus, and species levels were monitored in samples retrieved from raw water (RW), sludge in the holding tank (ST), and sludge supernatant (SST). Aphanothece clathrata brevis, Microcystis aeruginosa, Dolichospermum spiroides,
and Chroococcus minimus
were predominant species detected in RW by taxonomic cell counts. Shotgun metagenomics revealed that Proteobacteria was the predominant phylum in RW before and after the cyanobacterial bloom. Taxonomic cell counts and shotgun metagenomic showed that the Dolichospermum
bloom occurred inside the plant. Cyanobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the major bacterial phyla during the bloom. Shotgun metagenomics also showed that Synechococcus
were the predominant detected cyanobacterial genera in the samples. Conventional treatment removed more than 92% of cyanobacterial cells but led to cell accumulation in the sludge up to 31 times more than in the RW influx. Coagulation/sedimentation selectively removed more than 96% of Microcystis
. Cyanobacterial community in the sludge varied from raw water to sludge during sludge storage (1–13 days). This variation was due to the selective removal of coagulation/sedimentation as well as the accumulation of captured cells over the period of storage time. However, the prediction of the cyanobacterial community composition in the SST remained a challenge. Among nutrient parameters, orthophosphate availability was related to community profile in RW samples, whereas communities in ST were influenced by total nitrogen, Kjeldahl nitrogen (N- Kjeldahl), total and particulate phosphorous, and total organic carbon (TOC). No trend was observed on the impact of nutrients on SST communities. This study profiled new health-related, environmental, and technical challenges for the production of drinking water due to the complex fate of cyanobacteria in cyanobacteria-laden sludge and supernatant.
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