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Enzyme-induced reactive oxygen species trigger oxidative degradation of sulfamethoxazole within a methanotrophic biofilm.

Water Research 2024 Februrary 18
Although microorganisms carrying copper-containing membrane-bound monooxygenase (CuMMOs), such as particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO) and ammonia monooxygenase (AMO), have been extensively documented for their capability to degrade organic micropollutants (OMPs), the underlying reactive mechanism remains elusive. In this study, we for the first time demonstrate biogenic reactive oxygen species (ROS) play important roles in the degradation of sulfamethoxazole (SMX), a representative OMP, within a methane-fed biofilm. Highly-efficient and consistent SMX biodegradation was achieved in a CH4 -based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR), manifesting a remarkable SMX removal rate of 1210.6 ± 39.0 μg·L-1 ·d-1 . Enzyme inhibition and ROS clearance experiments confirmed the significant contribution of ROS, which were generated through the catalytic reaction of pMMO and AMO enzymes, in facilitating SMX degradation. Through a combination of density functional theory (DFT) calculations, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) analysis, and transformation product detection, we elucidated that the ROS primarily targeted the aniline group in the SMX molecule, inducing the formation of aromatic radicals and its progressive mineralization. In contrast, the isoxazole-ring was not susceptible to electrophilic ROS attacks, leading to accumulation of 3-amino-5-methylisoxazole (3A5MI). Furthermore, microbiological analysis suggested Methylosarcina (a methanotroph) and Candidatus Nitrosotenuis (an ammonia-oxidizing archaea) collaborated as the SMX degraders, who carried highly conserved and expressed CuMMOs (pMMO and AMO) for ROS generation, thereby triggering the oxidative degradation of SMX. This study deciphers SMX biodegradation through a fresh perspective of free radical chemistry, and concurrently providing a theoretical framework for the advancement of environmental biotechnologies aimed at OMP removal.

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