Artificial Intelligence for the Evaluation of Operational Parameters Influencing Nitrification and Nitrifiers in an Activated Sludge Process

Oluyemi Olatunji Awolusi, Mahmoud Nasr, Sheena Kumari, Faizal Bux

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrification at a full-scale activated sludge plant treating municipal wastewater was monitored over a period of 237 days. A combination of fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were used for identifying and quantifying the dominant nitrifiers in the plant. Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system (ANFIS), Pearson’s correlation coefficient, and quadratic models were employed in evaluating the plant operational conditions that influence the nitrification performance. The ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) abundance was within the range of 1.55 × 108–1.65 × 1010 copies L−1, while Nitrobacter spp. and Nitrospira spp. were 9.32 × 109–1.40 × 1011 copies L−1 and 2.39 × 109–3.76 × 1010 copies L−1, respectively. Specific nitrification rate (qN) was significantly affected by temperature (r 0.726, p 0.002), hydraulic retention time (HRT) (r −0.651, p 0.009), and ammonia loading rate (ALR) (r 0.571, p 0.026). Additionally, AOB was considerably influenced by HRT (r −0.741, p 0.002) and temperature (r 0.517, p 0.048), while HRT negatively impacted Nitrospira spp. (r −0.627, p 0.012). A quadratic combination of HRT and food-to-microorganism (F/M) ratio also impacted qN (r2 0.50), AOB (r2 0.61), and Nitrospira spp. (r2 0.72), while Nitrobacter spp. was considerably influenced by a polynomial function of F/M ratio and temperature (r2 0.49). The study demonstrated that ANFIS could be used as a tool to describe the factors influencing nitrification process at full-scale wastewater treatment plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-63
Number of pages15
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system
  • Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria
  • Nitrite-oxidizing bacteria
  • Operational parameters
  • Statistical tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science

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