Autotrophic degradation of sulfamethoxazole using sulfate-reducing biocathode in microbial photo-electrolysis system

Jiamin Bai, Guangli Liu, Yifeng Zhang, Haiping Luo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Sulfamethoxazole is a representative of sulfonamide antibiotic pollutants. This study aims to investigate the degradation pathways of sulfamethoxazole and the response of microbial communities using the autotrophic biocathode in microbial photo-electrolysis systems (MPESs). Sulfamethoxazole with an initial concentration of 2 mg L−1 was degraded into small molecule propanol within 6 h with the biocathode. Elemental sulfur (S0) was detected in the cathode chamber, accounting for 57 % of the removed sulfate. The conversion from sulfate to S0 indicated that autotrophic microorganisms might adopt a novel pathway for sulfamethoxazole removal in the MPES. In the abiotic cathode, sulfamethoxazole degradation rate was 0.09 mg L−1 h−1 with the electrochemistry process. However, sulfamethoxazole was converted to products that still contain benzene rings, including p-aminothiophenol, 3-amino-5-methylisoxazole, and sulfonamide. The microbial community analysis indicated that the synergistic interaction of Desulfovibrio and Acetobacterium promoted the autotrophic degradation of sulfamethoxazole. The results suggested that autotrophic microorganisms may play an important role in the environmental transformation of sulfamethoxazole..
Original languageEnglish
Article number170332
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Microbial photo-electrolysis system
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • Autotrophic degradation
  • Microbial community


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