Effect of sulfadiazine and trimethoprim on activated sludge performance and microbial community dynamics in laboratory-scale membrane bioreactors and sequencing batch reactors at 8°C

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • University of Granada


The effect of antibiotics sulfadiazine and trimethoprim on activated sludge operated at 8°C was investigated. Performance and microbial communities of sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) and Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs) were compared before and after the exposure of antibiotics to the synthetic wastewater. The results revealed irreversible negative effect of these antibiotics in environmentally relevant concentrations on nitrifying microbial community of SBR activated sludge. In opposite, MBR sludge demonstrated fast adaptation and more stable performance during the antibiotics exposure. Dynamics of microbial community was greatly affected by presence of antibiotics. Bacteria from classes Betaproteobacteria and Bacteroidetes demonstrated the potential to develop antibiotic resistance in both wastewater treatment systems while Actinobacteria disappeared from all of the reactors after 60 days of antibiotics exposure. Altogether, results showed that operational parameters such as sludge retention time (SRT) and reactor configuration had great effect on microbial community composition of activated sludge and its vulnerability to antibiotics. Operation at long SRT allowed archaea, including ammonium oxidizing species (AOA) such as Nitrososphaera viennensis to grow in MBRs. AOA could have an important role in stable nitrification performance of MBR‐activated sludge as a result of tolerance of archaea to antibiotics. © 2018 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2018


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2708
Number of pages8
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number1
Early online date7 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • activated sludge, AOA, microbial community, SRT, sulfadiazine, trimethoprim

ID: 28853426