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A continuous flow MFC-CW coupled with a biofilm electrode reactor to simultaneously attenuate sulfamethoxazole and its corresponding resistance genes

Li, Hua, Song, Hai-Liang, Yang, Xiao-Li, Zhang, Shuai, Yang, Yu-Li, Zhang, Li-Min, Xu, Han, Wang, Ya-Wen
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.637-638 pp. 295-305
anodes, antibiotic resistance genes, bioelectricity, biofilm, gene dosage, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, microbial communities, microbial fuel cells, ribosomal RNA, sulfamethoxazole, wetlands
A continuous flow microbial fuel cell constructed wetland (MFC-CW) coupled with a biofilm electrode reactor (BER) system was constructed to remove sulfamethoxazole (SMX). The BER unit powered by the stacked MFC-CWs was used as a pretreatment unit, and effluent flowed into the MFC-CW for further degradation. The experimental results indicated that the removal rate of 2 or 4 mg/L SMX in a BER unit was nearly 90%, and the total removal rate in the coupled system was over 99%. As the hydraulic retention time (HRT) was reduced from 16 h to 4 h, the SMX removal rate in the BER decreased from 75% to 48%. However, the total removal rate in the coupled system was still over 97%. The maximum SMX removal rate in the MFC-CW, which accounted for 42%–55% of the total removal, was obtained in the anode layer. In addition, the relative abundances of sul genes detected in the systems were in the order of sulI > sulII > sulIII, and significant positive correlations of sul gene copy numbers versus SMX concentration and 16S rRNA gene copy numbers were observed. Furthermore, significant negative correlations were identified between sul genes, 16S rRNA gene copy numbers, and HRT. The abundances of the sul genes in the effluent of the MFC-CW were lower than the abundances observed in the BER effluent. High-throughput sequencing revealed that the microbial community diversity of the BER was affected by running time, power supply forms and HRT. Bio-electricity from the MFC-CW may reduce microbial community diversity and contribute to reduction of the antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) abundance in the BER. Taken together, the BER-MFC-CW coupled system is a potential tool to treat wastewater containing SMX and attenuate corresponding ARG abundance.