Nitrifying biomass can retain its acclimation to 2,4,6-trichlorophenol

Shasha Zou, Yongming Zhang, Fu Chen, Xiyin Yu, Xueqi Wu, Chenyuan Zhang, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Many municipal wastewater treatment plants in China receive industrial wastewater that contains inhibitory organic chemicals, such as chlorinated phenols. For the common aerobic biological treatment, nitrification is a key step, but nitrifying bacteria are notably sensitive to inhibition by chlorinated phenols. In this work, normal activated sludge (containing nitrifying biomass) was acclimated to 2,4,6-trichlorophenol (TCP). The acclimated biomass had more than 2-fold faster nitrification kinetics than normal biomass when exposed to TCP, and it also achieved effective TCP removal in parallel. When suddenly exposed to TCP after as much as two months without TCP input, the acclimated nitrifying biomass retained effective nitrification and TCP biodegradation: The nitrification rate and TCP removal rate were 0.325 mM/h and 0.049 mM/h for the acclimated biomass, compared to only 0.165 mM/h and 0.001 mM/h for normal biomass. Resistance to TCP inhibition also was retained for 5 generations of sub-culturing without TCP exposure. High-throughput sequencing confirmed that the acclimated biomass contained nitrifying bacteria and heterotrophic bacteria capable of degrading TCP, although the key genera changed during sub-culturing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116285
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • 2,4,6-trichlorophenol
  • Acclimation
  • Inhibition resistance
  • Nitrifying bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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