Bacteria

The most important organisms in biological, wastewater treatment plants are the bacteria—eubacteria and archaebacteria. Recognition of the distinction between these two groups of organisms or domains (Bacteria and Archaea) is relatively recent, and it is common for species of both groups to be referred to as bacteria. Bacteria enter wastewater treatment plants through fecal waste and I/I as soil and water organisms.

The archaebacteria consist of the halophiles, thermacidophiles, and methanogens. Only the methanogens or methane-forming bacteria are of importance in waste-water treatment plants. Methane-forming bacteria stabilize wastes through their conversion to methane (CH4).

Halophiles (salt-loving) or halophilic bacteria are found in saltwater where the salt concentration (3.5%) is optimum for their growth.These marine organisms need an elevated sodium ion (Na+) concentration in their environment in order to maintain the integrity of their cell wall and an elevated potassium ion (K+) concentration in their cells for proper enzymatic activity. Halophilic bacteria along with cyanobacteria and photosynthetic bacteria produce gas vacuoles. These vacuoles are used to regulate cell buoyancy; that is, they are a cellular floatation device.

Thermacidophiles (high-temperature-loving and low-pH-loving) or thermaci-dophilic bacteria perform no role in wastewater treatment plants. These organisms live in hot acidic environments such as volcanic vents on the ocean floor.

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