Removal of sulfamethoxazole (SMX) in sulfate-reducing flocculent and granular sludge systems

Lin-Qing Qiu, Liang Zhang, Kai Tang, Guanghao Chen, Samir Kumar Khanal, Hui Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study investigated sulfamethoxazole (SMX) removal and fate in sulfate-reducing up-flow sludge bed (SRUSB) reactors inoculated with sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) granules and flocs. The resilience of SRB granules and flocs against varying pHs and hydraulic retention times (HRTs) was also examined. SRB granules and flocs efficiently removed SMX from wastewater, which was significantly higher than the aerobic sludge. SRB granules achieved significantly (p < 0.05) higher SMX removal (∼13.3 μg/g suspended solids (SS)-d) than the SRB flocs (∼11.2 μg/g SS-d) during 150-day of SRUSB reactors operation. The SMX removal by both granules and flocs was mainly attributed to biodegradation. Sorption also contributed to SMX removal, in which aromatic protein-like substances of extracellular polymeric substances played important role in SMX removal. In addition, SRB granules showed higher resilience than SRB flocs against varying pHs and HRTs. Thus, SRB-mediated biological process, especially SRB granules, could be a promising biotechnology to remove SMX from wastewaters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121592
JournalBioresource Technology
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Sulfamethoxazole (SMX)
  • Sulfate reducting bacteria (SRB) granules and flocs
  • Biodegradation
  • Adsorption
  • Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)

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