Achieving simultaneous nitrogen and antibiotic removal in one-stage partial nitritation-Anammox (PN/A) process

Huayu Li, Hong Yao, Tao Liu, Bingzheng Wang, Jun Xia, Jianhua Guo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Partial nitritation-Anammox (PN/A) process has been recognized as a sustainable process for biological nitrogen removal. Although various antibiotics have been ubiquitously detected in influent of wastewater treatment plants, little is known whether functional microorganisms in the PN/A process are capable of biodegrading antibiotics. This study aimed to investigate simultaneous nitrogen and antibiotic removal in a lab-scale one-stage PN/A system treating synthetic wastewater containing a widely-used antibiotic, sulfadiazine (SDZ). Results showed that maximum total nitrogen (TN) removal efficiency of 86.1% and SDZ removal efficiency of 95.1% could be achieved when treating 5 mg/L SDZ under DO conditions of 0.5–0.6 mg/L. Compared to anammox bacteria, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) made a major contribution to SDZ degradation through their cometabolic pathway. A strong correlation between amoA gene and SDZ removal efficiency was found (p < 0.01). In addition, the degradation products of SDZ did not exhibit any inhibitory effects on Escherichia coli. The findings suggest that it is promising to apply the PN/A process to simultaneously remove antibiotics and nitrogen from contaminated wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105987
JournalEnvironment international
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic resistance genes
  • Biodegradation
  • Cometabolism
  • Micropollutant removal
  • Partial nitritation-Anammox (PN/A)
  • Sulfadiazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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