Nutrient Cycling in Waste Streams

Nutrient cycling in waste streams, including municipal wastewater and food waste, is critical to the prevention of eutrophication in receiving water bodies and to the recovery of nutrients for downstream applications. We have utilized next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics pipelines to interrogate microbial communities involved in biological nutrient removal and recovery, namely the cycling of nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus. In my dissertation, I used metagenomics to expand the model for acidogenesis and acetogenesis from food waste. I also studied biological nitrogen removal in full-scale wastewater treatment processes using metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. Additionally, I was able to show the applicability of novel nitrogen removal pathways to mainstream sewage treatment at reduced energy and chemical costs. My work included partnerships with multiple domestic and international municipal wastewater treatment utilities and the US EPA.

Medini K. Annavajhala, Ph.D.

My research interests include multidrug-resistance in bacteria and relationships between pathogenic and non-pathogenic organisms in human and environmental systems.


A metagenomic survey was conducted to quantify contributions of comammox bacteria to overall nitrogen cycling in BNR processes.