Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 527–535 | Cite as

Internal loop photobiodegradation reactor (ILPBR) for accelerated degradation of sulfamethoxazole (SMX)

  • Ning Yan
  • Siqing Xia
  • Linke Xu
  • Jun Zhu
  • Yongming Zhang
  • Bruce E. Rittmann
Environmental biotechnology


The internal loop photobiodegradation reactor (ILPBR) was evaluated for the degradation of the pharmaceutical sulfamethoxazole (SMX) using batch experiments following three protocols: photolysis alone (P), biodegradation alone (B), and intimately coupled photolysis and biodegradation (P&B). SMX was removed more rapidly by P&B than by either P or B alone, and the corresponding dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removals by P&B also were higher. The faster SMX removal probably was due to a synergy between photolysis and the rapid biodegradation of SMX by the biofilm. The greater DOC removal was brought about by the presence of biofilm bacteria able to biodegrade photolysis products. Ammonium N released during photolysis of SMX gave more evidence for the formation of intermediates and was enough in P&B experiments to support bioactivity when no other N was supplied. Clone libraries performed on the biofilms before and after the P&B experiments showed profound changes in the microbial community. Whereas Rhodopirellula baltica and Methylibium petroleiphilum PM1 dominated the biofilm after the B experiments, they were replaced by Micrococcus luteus, Delftia acidovorans, and Oligotropha carboxidovorans after the P&B experiments. The changes in microbial community structure mirrored the change in function in the P&B experiments: SMX biodegradation (presumably the roles of R. baltica and M. petroleiphilum) was out-competed by SMX photolysis, but biodegradation of photolysis products (most likely by M. luteus and D. acidovorans) became important. The higher removal rates of SMX and DOC, as well as the changes in microbial community structure, confirm the value of intimately coupling photolysis with biodegradation in the ILPBR.


Biodegradation Biofilm Microbial community structure Photolysis Sulfamethoxazole 



The authors acknowledge the financial support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (50978164), the Special Foundation of Chinese Colleges and Universities Doctoral Discipline (20070270003), Innovation Fund for Key Projects of Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (10ZZ82), the Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Project (S30406), and the United States National Science Foundation (0651794).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ning Yan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Siqing Xia
    • 1
  • Linke Xu
    • 2
  • Jun Zhu
    • 2
  • Yongming Zhang
    • 2
  • Bruce E. Rittmann
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Engineering, College of Life and Environmental ScienceShanghai Normal UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, Biodesign InstituteArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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