Cu(II)-catalyzed degradation of ampicillin: effect of pH and dissolved oxygen

Yiming Guo, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Xinran Zhang, Xin Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Cu(II)-catalyzed hydrolysis of β-lactam antibiotics has been well-identified and recognized as the key mechanism of antibiotic degradation. However, the overlooked Cu(II) oxidation susceptibly also plays an important role comparably with hydrolysis. This study evaluated the roles of hydrolysis and oxidation in Cu(II)-catalyzed degraded ampicillin (AMP), as a typical β-lactam antibiotic, under relevant environmental conditions (pH 5.0, 7.0, and 9.0; oxygen 0.2 and 6.2 mg/L). Under AMP and Cu(II) molar ratio of 1:1, AMP degradation was the fastest at pH 9.0, followed by pH 5.0 and pH 7.0. The facilitation of oxygen on AMP degradation was notable at pH 5.0 and 7.0 rather than pH 9.0. AMP degradation rate increased from 21.8% in 0.2 mg/L O2solution to 85.9% in 6.2 mg/L O2solution at pH 7.0 after 4-h reaction. AMP oxidation was attributed to both oxygen-derived Cu(I)/Cu(II) cycle and intermediate reactive oxygen species (HO.and O2.−). Several intermediate and final products in AMP degradation were firstly identified by LC-quadrupole time-of-flight-MS analysis. Phenylglycine primary amine on the AMP structure was the essential complexation site to proceed with the oxidation reaction. The oxidation of AMP preferentially occurred on the β-lactam structure. The inherent mechanisms related to pH and oxygen conditions were firstly investigated, which could enhance the understanding of both oxidation and hydrolysis mechanisms in AMP degradation. This study not only has an important implication in predicting β-lactam antibiotic transformation and fate in natural environment but also benefits the developing of strategies of antibiotic control to reduce the environmental risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4279-4288
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Ampicillin
  • Complexation
  • Copper redox
  • Hydrolysis
  • Oxidation
  • β-Lactam antibiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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