Unravelling the contribution of nitrifying and methanotrophic bacteria to micropollutant co-metabolism in rapid sand filters



The presence of organic micropollutant (OMP) in groundwater threatens drinking water quality and public health. Rapid sand filter (RSF) rely on biofilms with nitrifying and methanotrophic bacteria to remove ammonia and methane during drinking water production. Previous research observed the partial removal of OMPs with active nitrification and methane oxidation due to co-metabolic conversion of OMPs. However, the contribution of indigenous nitrifying and methanotrophic communities from RSF has yet to be fully explored. Accordingly, experiments were carried out with biofilm-covered sand collected from field-scale RSF, to assess the removal of nine OMPs by nitrifying and methanotrophic bacteria. Results indicated that stimulating nitrification resulted in significantly more removal of caffeine, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and bentazone. Stimulating methanotrophic conditions enhanced the removal of caffeine, benzotriazole, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and bentazone. Microbial community analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed Nitrosomonas and Nitrospira are the dominant genus in the community under nitrifying conditions. The three genera Methylobacter, Methylomonas and Methylotenera were enriched under methanotrophic conditions. This study highlights that nitrifying and methanotrophic bacteria play important roles during OMP removal in field RSF. Furthermore, results suggest that bioaugmentation with an enriched nitrifying and methanotrophic culture is a promising approach to improve OMP removal in RSF.
Date made available5 Jan 2022
PublisherWageningen University


  • o-metabolic biodegradation
  • Nitrifying bacteria
  • Methanotrophic bacteria
  • Micropollutants Removal
  • drinking water metagenome

Accession numbers

  • PRJEB48767
  • ERP133182

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