Sulfadiazine (SD), one of broad-spectrum antibiotics, exhibits limited biodegradation in wastewater treatment due to its chemical structure, which requires initial mono-oxygenation reactions to initiate its biodegradation. Intimately coupling UV photolysis with biodegradation, realized with the internal loop photobiodegradation reactor, accelerated SD biodegradation and mineralization by 35 and 71 %, respectively. The main organic products from photolysis were 2-aminopyrimidine (2-AP), p-aminobenzenesulfonic acid (ABS), and aniline (An), and an SD-photolysis pathway could be identified using C, N, and S balances. Adding An or ABS (but not 2-AP) into the SD solution during biodegradation experiments (no UV photolysis) gave SD removal and mineralization rates similar to intimately coupled photolysis and biodegradation. An SD biodegradation pathway, based on a diverse set of the experimental results, explains how the mineralization of ABS and An (but not 2-AP) provided internal electron carriers that accelerated the initial mono-oxygenation reactions of SD biodegradation. Thus, multiple lines of evidence support that the mechanism by which intimately coupled photolysis and biodegradation accelerated SD removal and mineralization was through producing co-substrates whose oxidation produced electron equivalents that stimulated the initial mono-oxygenation reactions for SD biodegradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-921
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Biodegradation
  • Kinetics
  • Photolysis products
  • Sulfadiazine (SD)
  • UV irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry


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