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

Jinsong Wang, Chen Zhang, Baptiste A.J. Poursat, David de Ridder, Hauke Smidt, Albert van der Wal, Nora B. Sutton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


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 16 S 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127760
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Co-metabolic biodegradation
  • Groundwater
  • Methanotrophic bacteria
  • Nitrifying bacteria
  • Organic micropollutant
  • Rapid sand filter
  • PRJEB48767


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