Micropollutant biotransformation kinetics associate with WWTP process parameters and microbial community characteristics

Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Oct 2;46(19):10579-88. doi: 10.1021/es3019012. Epub 2012 Sep 14.


The objective of this work was to identify relevant wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) parameters and underlying microbial processes that influence the biotransformation of a diverse set of micropollutants. To do this, we determined biotransformation rate constants for ten organic micropollutants in batch reactors seeded with activated sludge from ten diverse WWTPs. The estimated biotransformation rate constants for each compound ranged between one and four orders of magnitude among the ten WWTPs. The biotransformation rate constants were tested for statistical associations with various WWTP process parameters, amoA transcript abundance, and acetylene-inhibited monooxygenase activity. We determined that (i) ammonia removal associates with oxidative micropollutant biotransformation reaction rates; (ii) archaeal but not bacterial amoA transcripts associate with both ammonia removal and oxidative micropollutant biotransformation reaction rates; and (iii) the activity of acetylene-inhibited monooxygenases (including ammonia monooxygenase) associates with ammonia removal and the biotransformation rate of isoproturon, but does not associate with all oxidative micropollutant biotransformations. In combination, these results lead to the conclusion that ammonia removal and amoA transcript abundance can potentially be predictors of oxidative micropollutant biotransformation reactions, but that the biochemical mechanism is not necessarily linked to ammonia monooxygenase activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylene / metabolism
  • Ammonia / metabolism
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Genes, Archaeal
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Kinetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Wastewater / analysis
  • Wastewater / microbiology*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Ammonia
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Acetylene