Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 106–112 | Cite as

Degradation of estradiol and ethinyl estradiol by activated sludge and by a defined mixed culture

  • Stefanie Weber
  • Prisca Leuschner
  • Peter Kämpfer
  • Wolfgang Dott
  • Juliane Hollender
Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology


The aerobic degradation of the natural hormone 17-β-estradiol (E2) and the synthetic hormone 17-α-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) was investigated in batch experiments with activated sludge from a conventional and a membrane sewage treatment plant. E2 was converted to estrone (E1), the well known metabolite, and further completely transformed within 3 days. The turnover rates of E2 did not differ greatly between conventional and membrane activated sludge. EE2 was persistent in both sludges. By several transfers into fresh E2-medium an enrichment culture could be selected that used E2 as growth substrate. Further enrichment and isolation led to a defined mixed culture consisting of two strains, which were identified by a polyphasic approach as Achromobacter xylosoxidans and Ralstonia sp., respectively. The culture used E2 and E1 as growth substrates and transformed estriol (E3) and 16-α-hydroxyestrone but not the xenoestrogens bisphenol A, α-zearalenol, mestranol or EE2. The turnover rates of E2 were 0.025–0.1 μg h−1 cfu−1 and did not depend on the steroid concentration.


Sludge High Performance Liquid Chromatography Activate Sludge Mixed Culture Enrichment Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank the German Research Foundation and the Environmental Forum of the Technical University of Aachen, Germany, for supporting the project AGEESA (Aachen Graduate Colleague for the elimination of endocrine disrupters from wastewater). Further acknowledgements go to Maike Meindorf for technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefanie Weber
    • 1
  • Prisca Leuschner
    • 1
  • Peter Kämpfer
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Dott
    • 1
  • Juliane Hollender
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Health RWTH AachenAachenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Applied MicrobiologyJustus-Liebig-University GiessenGiessenGermany

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