Biodegradation of Pharmaceuticals by Fungi and Metabolites Identification

  • C. Cruz-Morató
  • C. E. Rodríguez-Rodríguez
  • E. Marco-Urrea
  • M. Sarrà
  • G. Caminal
  • T. Vicent
  • A. Jelić
  • M. J. García-Galán
  • S. Pérez
  • M. S. Díaz-Cruz
  • M. Petrović
  • D. Barceló
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 24)


Pharmaceutical compounds comprise a widely employed group of therapeutic agents now considered as emerging micropollutants. This chapter summarizes the state of the art in the degradation of pharmaceuticals by fungi in liquid matrices (with emphasis on white-rot fungi), including the use of both whole cells and fungal enzymes. The identification of the metabolites produced as well as the proposed degradation pathways available for some drugs are discussed. The information is organized according to the activity of the pharmaceutical compounds, grouped in: anti-inflammatory/analgesic drugs, psychiatric drugs, lipid regulators, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents, β-blockers, estrogens, and iodinated contrast media. Considering the interest in potential application of fungal treatments in future real scale bioremediation of effluents, the ecotoxicology of the process is included when available.

Graphical Abstract


Degradation Pharmaceuticals Toxicity Transformation products White-rot fungi 

Abbreviations and Symbols


2,2-Azino-bis-(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt


Batch stirred tank reactor


Cross-linked enzyme aggregates










Half maximal effective concentration


17α-Ethinyl estradiol


Fluidized bed reactor




High performance liquid chromatography


Hydraulic retention time




Lignin peroxidase


Lignin modifying enzymes


Manganese peroxidase


Packed-bed reactor




Transformation products


Violuric acid


Versatile peroxidase


White-rot fungi


Wastewater treatment plant



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministries of MMAMRM (project 010/PC08/3-04) and MICINN (project CTQ2010-21776-C02-01). The Department of Chemical Engineering of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) is the Unit of Biochemical Engineering of the Xarxa de Referència en Biotecnologia de la Generalitat de Catalunya. The authors are members of a Consolidated Research Group of Catalonia (2009-SGR-656). C. Cruz-Morató acknowledges the predoctoral grant from UAB. C.E. Rodríguez-Rodríguez is recipient of a predoctoral fellowship from Universidad de Costa Rica and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (UCR-CSIC collaboration).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Cruz-Morató
    • 1
  • C. E. Rodríguez-Rodríguez
    • 2
    • 3
  • E. Marco-Urrea
    • 1
  • M. Sarrà
    • 1
  • G. Caminal
    • 4
  • T. Vicent
    • 1
  • A. Jelić
    • 5
  • M. J. García-Galán
    • 5
  • S. Pérez
    • 5
  • M. S. Díaz-Cruz
    • 5
  • M. Petrović
    • 6
    • 7
  • D. Barceló
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Departament d’Enginyeria QuímicaUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Unitat Asociada de Biocatàlisi Aplicada IQAC-CSICEscola d’Enginyeria, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Centro de Investigación en Contaminación Ambiental (CICA)Universidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  4. 4.Grupo de biocatalisis Aplicada y biodegradaciónIQAC-CSICBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Environmental ChemistryIDAEA, CSICBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.ICREA Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Passeig Lluís CompanysBarcelonaSpain
  7. 7.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)Parc Científic i Tecnològic de la Universitat de GironaGironaSpain

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