Biodegradation Kinetics of Fragrances, Plasticizers, UV Filters, and PAHs in a Mixture─Changing Test Concentrations over 5 Orders of Magnitude

Heidi Birch*, Karina Knudsmark Sjøholm, Arnaud Dechesne, Chris Sparham, Roger van Egmond, Philipp Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Biodegradation of organic chemicals emitted to the environment is carried out by mixed microbial communities growing on multiple natural and xenobiotic substrates at low concentrations. This study aims to (1) perform simulation type biodegradation tests at a wide range of mixture concentrations, (2) determine the concentration effect on the biodegradation kinetics of individual chemicals, and (3) link the mixture concentration and degradation to microbial community dynamics. Two hundred ninety-four parallel test systems were prepared using wastewater treatment plant effluent as inoculum and passive dosing to add a mixture of 19 chemicals at 6 initial concentration levels (ng/L to mg/L). After 1-30 days of incubation at 12 °C, abiotic and biotic test systems were analyzed using arrow solid phase microextraction and GC-MS/MS. Biodegradation kinetics at the highest test concentrations were delayed for several test substances but enhanced for the reference chemical naphthalene. Test concentration thus shifted the order in which chemicals were degraded. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing indicated that the highest test concentration (17 mg C/L added) supported the growth of the genera Acidovorax, Novosphingobium, and Hydrogenophaga, whereas no such effect was observed at lower concentrations. The chemical and microbial results confirm that too high mixture concentrations should be avoided when aiming at determining environmentally relevant biodegradation data.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)293–301
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Xenobiotics
    • Simulation biodegradation
    • Concentration effect
    • Microbial community
    • Passive dosing
    • 16S rRNA
    • Sequencing


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