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Bioresour Technol. 2013 Oct;146:721-31. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2013.07.083. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Insight into metabolic and cometabolic activities of autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms in the biodegradation of emerging trace organic contaminants.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore, 1 Engineering Drive 2, Singapore 117576, Singapore. Electronic address: ceetnh@nus.edu.sg.


Many efforts have been made to understand the biodegradation of emerging trace organic contaminants (EOCs) in the natural and engineered systems. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the biodegradation of EOCs while having in-depth discussion on metabolism and cometabolism of EOCs. Biodegradation of EOCs is mainly attributed to cometabolic activities of both heterotrophic and autotrophic microorganisms. Metabolism of EOCs can only be observed by heterotrophic microbes. Autotrophic ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and ammonia oxidizing archaeal (AOA) cometabolize a variety of EOCs via the non-specific enzymes, such as ammonia monooxygenase (AMO). Higher biodegradation of EOCs is often noted under nitrification at high ammonia loading rate. The presence of a growth substrate promotes cometabolic biodegradation of EOCs. Potential strategies for enhancing the biodegradation of EOCs were also proposed in this review.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Autotrophic ammonia oxidizers; Cometabolism; Emerging trace organic contaminants (EOCs); Heterotrophic microorganisms; Membrane bioreactor (MBR)

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