TetrasphaeraDid we forget anything? Let us know

Genus nameTetrasphaera
Alternative names
NCBI taxonomy ID99479

Taxonomy (MiDAS 2.0)


16S gene copy number1-2

 In situOther
Hydrophobic cell surface

FISH image of Tetrasphaera-PAO in activated sludge. Bacteria hybridizing with the bacterial probes EUBmix (green) and FISH image showing the branched rods (circles) and filament (square) hybridizing with probe Tet2-174. Yellow cells are overlay of red and green. Scale bar = 10 microns. - Source:3

Aerobic heterotroph
Short-chain fatty acids
Proteins/Amino acids

POSNEGVariableNot assessed


Members of the Tetrasphaera have also been identified as PAOs, reported to cycle polyphosphate, but without PHA accumulation. Instead, they seem to mainly utilize sugars and amino acids through a fermentative metabolism, where polyphosphate supplements anaerobic energy requirements 2345. Some may also be involved in denitrification 2. Interestingly, T. elongata can accumulate assimilated carbon and metabolites intracellularly (at approx. 4 mM) under anaerobic conditions for later use when oxygen becomes available 6. Thus, members of the genus in activated sludge may utilise several physiological strategies. T. jenkinsii, T. vanveenii and T. Veronensis, previously belonging to Eikelboom "Nostcoida limicola II", can form filaments 9 3, but rarely cause foaming or bulking problems.

Show full entry


3 FISH probe-defined clades (1-3) in activated sludge

FISH probes

Clade 1 = Tet1-266; Clade 2A = Tet2-892; Clade 2B = Tet2-174; Clade 3 = Tet3-654 3. Note that it is difficult to assess the specificity of these probes in MiDAS given they were designed against partial sequences that are not included in the database. Alternatively, application of the probe Actino-658 is recommended 5.


 In situOther
Aerobic Heterotroph35789101112
Nitrite Reduction52
Sulfate Reduction
Short-chain Fatty Acids357891011
Proteins/Amino Acids35791011

Abundance Information

 10 % percentileMedian90 % percentile
Activated Sludge2.27.720.2

Predominant InActivated sludge


[1] - NCBI genome database, NCBI id 99479 -

[2] Kristiansen, Nguyen, Saunders, Nielsen, Wimmer, Le, et al. (2013): A metabolic model for members of the genus Tetrasphaera involved in enhanced biological phosphorus removal. ISME J 7 (3): 543-54. doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.136

[3] Nguyen, Le, Hansen, Nielsen, Nielsen (2011): High diversity and abundance of putative polyphosphate-accumulating Tetrasphaera-related bacteria in activated sludge systems. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 76 (2): 256-67. doi:10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01049.x

[4] Nielsen, Nguyen, Meyer, Nielsen (2012): Identification of glucose-fermenting bacteria in a full-scale enhanced biological phosphorus removal plant by stable isotope probing. Microbiology (Reading, Engl.) 158 (Pt 7): 1818-25. doi:10.1099/mic.0.058818-0

[5] Kong, Nielsen, Nielsen (2005): Identity and ecophysiology of uncultured actinobacterial polyphosphate-accumulating organisms in full-scale enhanced biological phosphorus removal plants. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71 (7): 4076-85. doi:10.1128/AEM.71.7.4076-4085.2005

[6] Nguyen, Kristiansen, Vestergaard, Wimmer, Nielsen (2015): Intracellular Accumulation of Glycine in Polyphosphate-Accumulating Organisms in Activated Sludge, a Novel Storage Mechanism under Dynamic Anaerobic-Aerobic Conditions. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81 (14): 4809-18. doi:10.1128/AEM.01012-15

[7] Maszenan, Seviour, Patel, Schumann, Burghardt, Tokiwa, et al. (2000): Three isolates of novel polyphosphate-accumulating gram-positive cocci, obtained from activated sludge, belong to a new genus, Tetrasphaera gen. nov., and description of two new species, Tetrasphaera japonica sp. nov. and Tetrasphaera australiensis sp. nov. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 50 Pt 2 (): 593-603. doi:10.1099/00207713-50-2-593

[8] Ishikawa, Yokota (2006): Reclassification of Arthrobacter duodecadis Lochhead 1958 as Tetrasphaera duodecadis comb. nov. and emended description of the genus Tetrasphaera. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 56 (Pt 6): 1369-73. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.02984-0

[9] McKenzie, Seviour, Schumann, Maszenan, Liu, Webb, et al. (2006): Isolates of 'Candidatus Nostocoida limicola' Blackall et al. 2000 should be described as three novel species of the genus Tetrasphaera, as Tetrasphaera jenkinsii sp. nov., Tetrasphaera vanveenii sp. nov. and Tetrasphaera veronensis sp. nov. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 56 (Pt 10): 2279-90. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.63978-0

[10] Osman, Moissl, Hosoya, Briegel, Mayilraj, Satomi, et al. (2007): Tetrasphaera remsis sp. nov., isolated from the Regenerative Enclosed Life Support Module Simulator (REMS) air system. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 57 (Pt 12): 2749-53. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.65137-0

[11] Hanada, Liu, Shintani, Kamagata, Nakamura (2002): Tetrasphaera elongata sp. nov., a polyphosphate-accumulating bacterium isolated from activated sludge. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 52 (Pt 3): 883-7. doi:10.1099/00207713-52-3-883

[12] Onda, Takii (2002): Isolation and characterization of a Gram-positive polyphosphate-accumulating bacterium. J. Gen. Appl. Microbiol. 48 (3): 125-33.

[13] Kong, Xia, Nielsen (2008): Activity and identity of fermenting microorganisms in full-scale biological nutrient removing wastewater treatment plants. Environ. Microbiol. 10 (8): 2008-19. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01617.x

Hide details
comments powered by Disqus

Contact us at mail@midasfieldguide.org