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Cometabolic Enzymatic Transformation of Organic Micropollutants under Methanogenic Conditions

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journal contribution
posted on 15.02.2017, 00:00 by Lorena Gonzalez-Gil, Marta Carballa, Juan M. Lema
Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been shown to have the biological potential to decrease concentrations of several organic micropollutants (OMPs) in sewage sludge. However, the mechanisms and factors behind these biotransformations, which are essential for elucidating the possible transformation products and to foster the complete removal of OMPs via operational strategies, remain unclear. Therefore, this study investigated the transformation mechanisms of 20 OMPs during the methanogenic step of AD with a focus on the role of acetate kinase (AK), which is a key enzyme in methane production. The results from lab-scale methanogenic reactors showed that this step accounts for much of the reported OMP biotransformation in AD. Furthermore, enzymatic assays confirmed that AK transforms galaxolide, naproxen, nonylphenol, octylphenol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, bisphenol A, and triclosan. Except for galaxolide, for which further studies are required to refine conclusions, the OMP’s chemical structure was a determinant for AK action because only compounds that contain a carboxyl or hydroxyl group and have moderate steric hindrance were enzymatically transformed, likely by phosphorylation. For these seven compounds, this enzymatic mechanism accounts for 10–90% of the measured methanogenic biotransformation, suggesting that other active enzymes of the AD process are also involved in OMP biotransformation.