Discovery of a new genus of anaerobic ammonium oxidizing bacteria with a mechanism for oxygen tolerance

Yuchun Yang, Zhongyi Lu, Mohammad Azari, Boran Kartal, Huan Du, Mingwei Cai, Craig W. Herbold, Xinghua Ding, Martin Denecke, Xiaoyan Li, Meng Li, Ji-Dong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In the past 20 years, there has been a major stride in understanding the core mechanism of anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria, but there are still several discussion points on their survival strategies. Here, we discovered a new genus of anammox bacteria in a full-scale wastewater-treating biofilm system, tentatively named “Candidatus Loosdrechtia aerotolerans”. Next to genes of all core anammox metabolisms, it encoded and transcribed genes involved in the dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA), which coupled to oxidation of small organic acids, could be used to replenish ammonium and sustain their metabolism. Surprisingly, it uniquely harbored a new ferredoxin-dependent nitrate reductase, which has not yet been found in any other anammox genome and might confer a selective advantage to it in nitrate assimilation. Similar to many other microorganisms, superoxide dismutase and catalase related to oxidative stress resistance were encoded and transcribed by “Ca. Loosdrechtia aerotolerans”. Interestingly, bilirubin oxidase (BOD), likely involved in oxygen resistance of anammox bacteria under fluctuating oxygen concentrations, was identified in “Ca. Loosdrechtia aerotolerans” and four Ca. Brocadia genomes, and its activity was demonstrated using purified heterologously expressed proteins. A following survey of oxygen-active proteins in anammox bacteria revealed the presence of other previously undetected oxygen defense systems. The novel cbb3-type cytochrome c oxidase and bifunctional catalase-peroxidase may confer a selective advantage to Ca. Kuenenia and Ca. Scalindua that face frequent changes in oxygen concentrations. The discovery of this new genus significantly broadens our understanding of the ecophysiology of anammox bacteria. Furthermore, the diverse oxygen tolerance strategies employed by distinct anammox bacteria advance our understanding of their niche adaptability and provide valuable insight for the operation of anammox-based wastewater treatment systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
StateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2022


  • Anammox
  • New genus
  • Biofilm
  • Oxygen tolerance
  • Nitrate reduction


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