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Roles of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria in improving metabolism and cometabolism of trace organic chemicals in biological wastewater treatment processes: A review

Nsenga Kumwimba, Mathieu, Meng, Fangang
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.659 pp. 419-441
ammonium nitrogen, aquatic environment, biodegradation, chemical structure, ecophysiology, heterotrophs, human health, metabolism, nitrifying bacteria, organic compounds, pollutants, pollution control, redox potential, toxicity, wastewater treatment
While there has been a significant recent improvement in the removal of pollutants in natural and engineered systems, trace organic chemicals (TrOCs) are posing a major threat to aquatic environments and human health. There is a critical need for developing potential strategies that aim at enhancing metabolism and/or cometabolism of these compounds. Recently, knowledge regarding biodegradation of TrOCs by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) has been widely developed. This review aims to delineate an up-to-date version of the ecophysiology of AOB and outline current knowledge related to biodegradation efficiencies of the frequently reported TrOCs by AOB. The paper also provides an insight into biodegradation pathways by AOB and transformation products of these compounds and makes recommendations for future research of AOB. In brief, nitrifying WWTFs (wastewater treatment facilities) were superior in degrading most TrOCs than non-nitrifying WWTFs due to cometabolic biodegradation by the AOB. To fully understand and/or enhance the cometabolic biodegradation of TrOCs by AOB, recent molecular research has focused on numerous crucial factors including availability of the compounds to AOB, presence of growth substrate (NH4-N), redox potentials, microorganism diversity (AOB and heterotrophs), physicochemical properties and operational parameters of the WWTFs, molecular structure of target TrOCs and membrane-based technologies, may all significantly impact the cometabolic biodegradation of TrOCs. Still, further exploration is required to elucidate the mechanisms involved in biodegradation of TrOCs by AOB and the toxicity levels of formed products.