Effect of two broad-spectrum antibiotics on activity and stability of continuous nitrifying system

J. L. Campos, J. M. Garrido, R. Méndez, J. M. Lema

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The effects of two broad-spectrum antibiotics, chloramphenicol and oxytetracycline hydrochloride, on the microbial activity and biofilm stability of a mixed nitrifying culture were studied. These antibiotics are present in some wastewaters generated in cattle farms or pharmaceutical industries. A 1-L fermentor, in which nitrifiers grew both in suspension and in a biofilm, was used during the experiments. Chloramphenicol (10-250 mg/L) barely had any effect on biofilm stability and nitrification. Ammonia was fully oxidized to nitrate. However, oxytetracycline caused biofilm sloughing at concentrations of 10 mg/L, but nitrification was not inhibited at antibiotic concentrations up to 100 mg/L. When the concentration of oxytetracycline chlorohydrate was increased stepwise from 100 to 250 mg/L, nitrification was inhibited by 50%. The dissolved organic carbon measurements in both the influent and effluent showed that the antibiotics were neither mineralized by the mixed nitrifying culture nor accumulated in the system. Furthermore, the microbial tests did not reveal the presence of active antibiotics in the effluent. This fact indicates that both cloramphenicol and oxytetracycline were degraded by the nitrifying sludge but not mineralized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Biochemistry and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic
  • Biofilm
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Nitrification
  • Oxytetracycline hydrochloride


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