Fungal-Mediated Degradation of Emerging Pollutants in Sewage Sludge

  • C. E. Rodríguez-Rodríguez
  • G. Caminal
  • T. Vicent
  • M. S. Díaz-Cruz
  • E. Eljarrat
  • M. Farré
  • M. J. López de Alda
  • M. Petrović
  • D. Barceló
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 24)


This chapter summarizes the novel approaches employed for the removal of emerging pollutants from sludge by means of fungal processes. The first part of the chapter introduces the potential application of fungi in bioremediation, which sets the background for the next chapters of the book. This includes a description of the fungal enzymatic systems usually involved in the oxidation of pollutants, as well as a brief review of the wide range of contaminants so far known to be degraded by fungi. The second half of the chapter presents the state of the art in application of fungi to remove emerging pollutants in sludge which, due to its novelty, is reduced to only a few reports performed in solid-phase and slurry reactors with Trametes versicolor, mostly under sterile conditions but with references of removal of pharmaceuticals under non-sterile conditions. Data available include several emerging pollutants which were grouped according to their function or activity: pharmaceutical compounds (26 drugs), brominated flame retardants (6), UV filters (7) and estrogens (3). Finally some considerations about the residual toxicity of the processes are discussed.

Graphical Abstract


Biodegradation Emerging pollutants Sewage sludge Trametes versicolor White-rot fungi 

Abbreviations and Symbols

Abbreviations and Symbols




3-(4-Methylbenzylidene) camphor


2,2′-Azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)


Activated sludge


Brominated flame retardants






Chemical oxygen demand






Deca-bromodiphenyl ether


Deca-bromodiphenyl ethane


Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis






Dry weight








Endocrine disrupting compound








2,2′,3,4,4′,5′,6-Hepta-bromodiphenyl ether


2,2′,4,4′,5,6′-Hexa-bromodiphenyl ether


Lignin peroxidase


Lignin-modifying enzymes


Lignin-modifying peroxidases


Membrane bioreactor


Manganese peroxidase


Not detected


N-(4-Cyanophenyl)acetohydroxamic acid


Naproxen degradation test






Octyl-dimethyl-p-aminobenzoic acid


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers


2,2′,4,4′,5-Penta-bromodiphenyl ether


Pharmaceutical compounds




Relative standard deviation


2,2′,4,4′-Tetra-bromodiphenyl ether




Activity units


Ultra-violet filters


Versatile peroxidase


White-rot fungi


Wheat straw pellets


Wastewater treatment plant



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministries of MMAMRM (project 010/PC08/3-04) and MICINN (projects CTQ2010-21776-C02-01 and CGL2007-64551). The Department of Chemical Engineering of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 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. Rodríguez-Rodríguez is recepient of a predoctoral grant from Universidad de Costa Rica and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (UCR-CSIC collaboration).


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Authors and Affiliations

  • C. E. Rodríguez-Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Caminal
    • 3
  • T. Vicent
    • 4
  • M. S. Díaz-Cruz
    • 5
  • E. Eljarrat
    • 5
  • M. Farré
    • 5
  • M. J. López de Alda
    • 5
  • M. Petrović
    • 6
    • 7
  • D. Barceló
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Unitat Asociada de Biocatàlisi Aplicada IQAC-CSICEscola d’Enginyeria, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación en Contaminación AmbientalUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  3. 3.Grupo de biocatalisis Aplicada y biodegradaciónIQAC-CSICBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Departament d’Enginyeria QuímicaEscola d’Enginyeria, Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA)Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Institució Catalana de Reserca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain
  7. 7.Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA)H2O Building, Scientific and Technological Park of the University of Girona, 101GironaSpain

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