The degradation of xenobiotic branched carboxylic acids in anaerobic sediment of the Pearl River in Southern China

Hong Chua, Peter H.F. Yu, Wai Hung Lo, Shirley Ngai Sin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Xenobiotic branched carboxylic acids (BCAs) discharged by industries are often persistent in biological wastewater treatment systems and end up in water and sediments. In this study, the degradation of 12 typical BCAs in an anaerobic environment of river sediment was studied in vitro using enrichment shake-flask cultures. The anaerobic consortium taken from the river sediment, comprising BCA-degrading and methane-producing genera, degraded BCAs with tertiary carbons through beta-oxidation, followed by methanogenesis mechanisms. The maximum cell densities in the cultures using BCAs as the sole carbon source ranged between 5.0 and 6.0×105cells/ml. The maximum degradation rates were between 5.0 and 8.5×10-3mmol/h. The consortium could not degrade BCAs with quaternary carbons. The degree of branching at the alpha or beta position along the carbon chain interfered with the beta-oxidation mechanisms. These BCAs would accumulate in the sediment and significantly affect the cycling of organic carbon and nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2001


  • Anaerobic bacteria
  • Beta-oxidation
  • Carboxylic acid
  • Degradation
  • Fatty acid biodegradation
  • Sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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