Biodegradation of typical azole fungicides in activated sludge under aerobic conditions

Guangguo Ying , Wenwen Cai , Pu Ye , Bin Yang , Zhouqi Shi , Qian Xiong , Fangzhou Gao , Yousheng Liu , Jianliang Zhao


Received September 23, 2020,Revised , Accepted November 17, 2020, Available online December 04, 2020

Volume 33,2021,Pages 288-297

Widespread use of azole fungicides and low removal efficiency in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) have led to the elevated concentration of azole fungicides in receiving environment. However, there was limited research about the removal mechanism of azole fungicides in the biological treatment of WWTPs. Imidazole fungicide climbazole and triazole fungicide fluconazole were selected to investigate the biodegradation mechanism of azole fungicides in activated sludge under aerobic conditions. Climbazole was found to be adsorbed to solid sludge and resulted in quick biodegradation. The degradation of climbazole in the aerobic activated sludge system was fitted well by the first-order kinetic model with a half-life of 5.3 days, while fluconazole tended to stay in liquid and had only about 30% of loss within 77 days incubation. Ten biotransformation products of climbazole were identified by high resolution mass spectrometry using suspect and non-target screening method. But no biodegradation products of fluconazole were identified due to its limited removal. The possible biodegradation pathways for climbazole were proposed based on the products identification and pathway prediction system, and involves oxidative dehalogenation, side chain oxidation and azole ring loss. The findings from this study suggest that it should be a concern for the persistence of fluconazole in the environment.

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