Looking through the FOG: microbiome characterization and lipolytic bacteria isolation from a fatberg site




Journal Title

Journal ISSN



Volume Title


Microbiology Society



Peer reviewed



Sewer systems are complex physical, chemical and microbial ecosystems where fats, oils and grease (FOG) present a major problem for sewer management. Their accumulation can lead to blockages (‘Fatbergs’), sewer overflows and disruption of downstream wastewater treatment. Further advancements of biological FOG treatments need to be tailored to degrade the FOG, and operate successfully within the sewer environment. In this study we developed a pipeline for isolation of lipolytic strains directly from two FOG blockage sites in the UK, and isolated a range of highly lipolytic bacteria. We selected the five most lipolytic strains using Rhodamine B agar plates and pNP-Fatty acid substrates, with two Serratia spp., two Klebsiella spp. and an environmental Acinetobacter strain that all have the capacity to grow on FOG-based carbon sources. Their genome sequences identified the genetic capacity for fatty acid harvesting (lipases), catabolism and utilization (Fad genes). Furthermore, we performed a preliminary molecular characterization of the microbial community at these sites, showing a diverse community of environmental bacteria at each site, but which did include evidence of sequences related to our isolates. This study provides proof of concept to isolation strategies targeting Fatberg sites to yield candidate strains with bioremediation potential for FOG in the wastewater network. Our work sets the foundation for development of novel bioadditions tailored to the environment with non-pathogenic Acinetobacter identified as a candidate for this purpose.


open access article.


Fat oil and grease, FFA, free fatty acids, FOG, SWWa, synthetic wastewater


Court, E.K., Chaudhuri, R.R., Kapoore, R. V., Villa, R., Pandhal, J., Biggs, C.A. and Stafford G.P. (2021) Looking through the FOG: microbiome characterization and lipolytic bacteria isolation from a fatberg site. Microbiology, 167(12).


Research Institute

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)