Nitrite oxidation is a key step in nitrogen removal in biological wastewater treatment plants. Recently, two phylogenetically different Nitrospira (sublineages I and II) have been recognized as the numerically dominant nitriteoxidizing bacteria in wastewater treatment plants. However, Nitrospira sublineage II inhabiting activated sludge was not isolated and its detailed properties were unclear. In this study, we developed a new method for the isolation of Nitrospira forming micro-colonies using a cell sorter. We obtained a novel pure strain "Nitrospira japonica" from the activated sludge. Subsequently, phylogenetic and physiological analyses revealed that Nitrospira japonica belongs to sublineage II and grew in medium containing formate. This method has the potential to isolate other uncultured microorganisms forming micro-colonies.
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