Bioaugmentation of membrane bioreactor with Achromobacter denitrificans strain PR1 for enhanced sulfamethoxazole removal in wastewater

P. Y. Nguyen, Ana F. Silva, Ana C. Reis, Olga C. Nunes, Alexandre M. Rodrigues, João E. Rodrigues, Vitor Vale Cardoso, Maria J. Benoliel, Maria A. M. Reis, Adrian Oehmen, Gilda Carvalho

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Achromobacter denitrificans strain PR1, previously found to harbour specific degradation pathways with high sulfamethoxazole (SMX) degradation rates, was bioaugmented into laboratory-scale membrane bioreactors (MBRs) operated under aerobic conditions to treat SMX-containing real domestic wastewater. Different hydraulic retention times (HRTs), which is related to reaction time and loading rates, were considered and found to affect the SMX removal efficiency. The availability of primary substrates was important in both bioaugmented and non-bioaugmented activated sludge (AS) for cometabolism of SMX. High HRT (24 h) resulted in low food to microorganism ratio (F/M) and low SMX removal, due to substrate limitation. Decrease in HRT from 24 h to 12 h, 6 h and finally 4 h led to gradual increases in primary substrates availability, e.g. organic compounds and ammonia, resulted in increased SMX removal efficiency and degradation rate, and is more favorable for high-rate wastewater treatment processes. After inoculation into the MBRs, the bioaugmentation strain was sustained in the reactor for a maximum of 31 days even though a significant decrease in abundance was observed. The bioaugmented MBRs showed enhanced SMX removal, especially under SMX shock loads compared to the control MBRs. The results of this study indicate that re-inoculation is required regularly after a period of time to maintain the removal efficiency of the target compound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-55
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number460
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • Antibiotics
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Cometabolism
  • Hydraulic retention time
  • Nitrification rate
  • Organic loading rate


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