Biological conversion of sulfisoxazole in an autotrophic hydrogen-based membrane biofilm reactor

Lin Yang, Si Pang, Jingzhou Zhou, Chengyang Wu, Xiaodi Li, Mengying Yao, Siqing Xia, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Sulfisoxazole (SIZ), a common antimicrobial prescribed for treating infections in livestock, is frequently detected in surface water and groundwater along with nitrate. The interactions of SIZ biotransformation and nitrate removal were investigated in a H2-based membrane biofilm reactor (H2-MBfR) through long-term reactor operation augmented by short-term batch experiments in serum bottles. Denitrification in the H2-MBfR was not influenced by SIZ when its input concentration was ≤5 mg L−1, although SIZ removal was inhibited by nitrate. Transformation products identified by mass spectrometry were formed via hydrogenation (reduction) reactions. The addition of SIZ shaped the microbial community structure, leading to the relative abundance of denitrifiers decreasing with the highest SIZ loading. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) were present in all stages, as the biofilms had relatively high abundances of the dsrA gene and its transcription products, while sulfide was generated in the final stage. SRB also appeared to be important in SIZ biotransformation, perhaps using SIZ as an electron donor, electron acceptor, or both. Concurrent SIZ removal and stable denitrification make the H2-MBfR a prospective technology for the treatment of wastewaters polluted with nitrate and SIZ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103396
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Biodegradation
  • Denitrification
  • H-based membrane biofilm reactor
  • Sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • Sulfisoxazole removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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