Nitrogen removal from wastewater is crucial to protect Australia’s sensitive environments. This project will investigate the kinetic and physiological properties of the recently discovered ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), and develop an innovative one-step nitrogen removal process by enriching AOA and Anammox, achieving completely autotrophic nitrogen removal under oxygen-limited condition. Compared to the nitrogen removal processes commonly used today, this one-step process consumes much less energy and does not require a carbon source. It can also mitigate greenhouse gas emission from wastewater. This project will provide fundamental support to the development of new processes that enable more sustainable nitrogen removal process. This would bring considerable benefits to the Australian wastewater industry and could potentially influence the way that biological nutrient removal plants are designed and operated.

Project Outcomes

To elucidate the full community structure in nitrifying systems, we have performed high-throughput sequencing using an Illumina HiSeq2000. We have conducted DNA sequence assembly and bioinformatics analysis. As a sequence reference for the comparison of the metagenomic data several genomes of AOB, AOA and Anammox are available. We have analysed variation in the community structure upon induced fluctuations in the relevant environmental conditions, in particular to various aggregating morphologies. A paper has been published on Environmental Microbiology.



  • Jianhua Guo, Liang Zhang, Lu Fan, Bing-Jie Ni, Boran Kartal, Yongzhen Peng, Mike S.M. Jetten, Zhiguo Yuan. Metagenomic analysis of anammox community structure in three different microbial aggregates. Environmental Microbiology, 2015. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.13132
  • Jianhua Guo, Yongzhen Peng, Bing-Jie Ni, Lu Fan, Zhiguo Yuan. Dissecting microbial community structure and methane-producing pathways through metagenomic sequencing in a full-scale anaerobic digester. Microbial Cell Factories. 2015, 14: 33.

Conference Proceedings

  • Jianhua Guo, Bing-Jie Ni, Xiaoyu Han, Xueming Chen, Philip Bond, Yongzhen Peng, Zhiguo Yuan. Metagenomic analysis of microbial community structure and diversity in a full-scale biological nutrient removal plant. The 6th IWA-ASPIRE Conference and Exhibition, Beijing, China, 20 – 24 September, 2015

Poster Presentations

  • Jianhua Guo, Bin Ma, Bing-Jie Ni, Xueming Chen, Zhiguo Yuan. Modeling Mainstream Nitrogen Removal by Anammox in a Granule-based UASB Reactor. 9th IWA Symposium on Systems Analysis and Integrated Assessment, 14-17 June 2015, Gold Coast, Australia.

Project members

Professor Jianhua Guo

Professor and UQ Amplify Fellow
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology