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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Jun;20(6):3592-606. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1605-1. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Investigating the fate of iodinated X-ray contrast media iohexol and diatrizoate during microbial degradation in an MBBR system treating urban wastewater.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cyprus, P.O Box 20537, 1678, Nicosia, Cyprus.


The capability of a moving bed biofilm reactor (MBBR) to remove the iodinated contrast media (ICM) iohexol (IOX) and diatrizoate (DTZ) from municipal wastewater was studied. A selected number of clones of microorganisms present in the biofilm were identified. Biotransformation products were tentatively identified and the toxicity of the treated effluent was assessed. Microbial samples were DNA-sequenced and subjected to phylogenetic analysis in order to confirm the identity of the microorganisms present and determine the microbial diversity. The analysis demonstrated that the wastewater was populated by a bacterial consortium related to different members of Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Nitrisporae. The optimum removal values of the ICM achieved were 79 % for IOX and 73 % for DTZ, whereas 13 biotransformation products for IOX and 14 for DTZ were identified. Their determination was performed using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The toxicity of the treated effluent tested to Daphnia magna showed no statistical difference compared to that without the addition of the two ICM. The MBBR was proven to be a technology able to remove a significant percentage of the two ICM from urban wastewater without the formation of toxic biodegradation products. A large number of biotransformation products was found to be formed. Even though the amount of clones sequenced in this study does not reveal the entire bacterial diversity present, it provides an indication of the predominating phylotypes inhabiting the study site.

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