Degradation performance

Degradation performance is a term describing the efficiency of bacterial populations in converting certain wastewater compunds, which is the basis for an efficient sewage purification.

Bacteria are responsible for degradation performance

In a wastewater treatment plant, the ability of bacteria to convert chemical compounds is crucial for its purification performance. In contrast to a pure culture, which is characterized by the presence of a single bacteria species, sludge consists of millions of different species. Some of them collaborate, while others also compete with each other.

Bacteria in a pure culture

Bacteria have a pre-determined set of metabolic pathways, enabling the conversion of chemical compounds.

Bacateria in activated sludge

In activated sludge, bacteria live in close association with each other.

Classification of bacteria

Via molecular biology, bacteria can divided into separate groups. These groups are called phyla. Classification is performed according to the natural kinship of bacteria, regardless of any artificial characteristics.

Figure: The phylogenetic family tree of life

Bacteria form one of the three domains of life and are the oldest organized life form. The other two domains include the Archaea and the Eukarya.

The further subdivision of the bacteria was done by phylogenetic analysis into groups called phyla. Within the individual phyla there is a further division over classes, orders, families, genera, species and even strains.

What are VIT® profiles?

Profiles of wastewaters samples are a term for the division of bacteria into different groups and their subsequent quantification. Profiles are created via VIT® gene probe technology, which detects bacteria groups directly and is independent from cultivation.





Ideally, a reference profile of a well-working plant is created. Bacteria groups are identified and quantified as percentage share of all living bacteria. It is sufficient to just fixate a sample when times are good. Analysis can be postponed to the point when a comparison is required.


In case of a decreased degradation performance, a second profile is created for the new wastewater sample and compared to the reference. In this way, the groups of bacteria responsible for the plant's malfunction become evident.

Process adjustment

Consequently, process management can be adjusted and the adjustment's impacts on the populations can be measured directly. This results in a much quicker first feedback regarding whether the process adjustments have effected the desired changes in the bacterial population - even before discharge values indicate any changes.

Application of VIT® for profiling

With VIT®, profiles for wastewater samples can be created. Only living bacteria are measured and quantified directly, i.e. "where it all happens". You can choose between the services of Main Group Analysis and the detailed Premium Population Analysis - according to requirement and need.