Changes in the composition of bacterial communities and pathogen levels during wastewater treatment

Shuangfei LI, Shilin WANG, Ming Hung WONG, Madiha ZAYNAB, Keju WANG, Liping ZHONG, Liao OUYANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Wastewater treatment plants have been described as a potential source of spreading pathogens to the receiving water. However, few studies are reporting the presence and concentration changes of pathogens in these matrices. High-throughput sequencing provides new insights into understanding the changes of bacterial communities throughout wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). In this study, the changes in microbial community composition and the levels of representative pathogens of effluents during the wastewater treatment process in two municipal WWTPs (A and B) were analyzed using Illumina NovaSeq sequencing and qPCR. Proteobacteria was the most abundant phylum in all samples, accounting for 45.0–75.2% of the bacterial community, followed by Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Nitrospirae. A slight difference was observed between the bacterial community compositions of WWTPs A and B. However, a significant difference in the community compositions of effluent samples at different treatment stages was observed. Nutrients had a more substantial impact on bacterial community composition than physicochemical factors. Most human-associated Bacteroides and Mycobacterium were eliminated during the wastewater treatment process in both WWTPs. The bacterial community richness in WWTP A was significantly higher than that in WWTP B. The results of this study will provide insights into the potential problems that exist in WWTPs. In turn, these insights can enable the efficient and stable operation of WWTPs and help prevent the spread of pathogens. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1243
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date01 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


Li, S., Wang, S., Wong, M. H., Zaynab, M., Wang, K., Zhong, L., & Ouyang, L. (2023). Changes in the composition of bacterial communities and pathogen levels during wastewater treatment. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 30, 1232-1243. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-21947-8


  • Wastewater treatment plants
  • Effluents
  • Bacterial community
  • qPCR
  • Human-associated Bacteroides
  • Mycobacterium


Dive into the research topics of 'Changes in the composition of bacterial communities and pathogen levels during wastewater treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.