Many biotechnological applications deal with nitrification, one of the main steps of the global nitrogen cycle. The biological oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and further to nitrate is critical to avoid environmental damage and its functioning has to be retained even under adverse conditions. Bacteria performing the second reaction, oxidation of nitrite to nitrate, are fastidious microorganisms that are highly sensitive against disturbances. One important finding with relevance for nitrogen removal systems was the discovery of the mainly cold-adapted Cand. Nitrotoga, whose activity seems to be essential for the recovery of nitrite oxidation in wastewater treatment plants at low temperatures, e.g., during cold seasons. Several new strains of this genus have been recently described and ecophysiologically characterized including genome analyses. With increasing diversity, also mesophilic Cand. Nitrotoga representatives have been detected in activated sludge. This review summarizes the natural distribution and driving forces defining niche separation in artificial nitrification systems. Further critical aspects for the competition with Nitrospira and Nitrobacter are discussed. Knowledge about the physiological capacities and limits of Cand. Nitrotoga can help to define physico-chemical parameters for example in reactor systems that need to be run at low temperatures.
• Characterization of the psychrotolerant nitrite oxidizer Cand. Nitrotoga
• Comparison of the physiological features of Cand. Nitrotoga with those of other NOB
• Identification of beneficial environmental/operational parameters for proliferation
Nitrotoga” is a NOB of high environmental relevance, but physiological data exist for only a few representatives. Initially, it was detected in specialized niches of low temperature and low nitrite concentrations, but later on, its ubiquitous distribution revealed its critical role for N removal in engineered systems like WWTPs. In this study, we analyzed the competition between
in bioreactors and identified conditions where the
was almost replaced by
sp. BS. We show that the pH value is an important factor that regulates the composition of the nitrite-oxidizing enrichment with a dominance of
sp. BS versus
at a neutral pH of 7.4 in combination with a temperature of 17°C. The physiological diversity of novel
cultures improves our knowledge about niche differentiation of NOB with regard to functional nitrification under suboptimal conditions.