Recovery of the nitrifying ability of acclimated biomass exposed to para-nitrophenol

Chenyuan Zhang, Ning Yan, Ge Zhu, Fu Chen, Xiyin Yu, Zhaowei Huang, Yongming Zhang, Bruce E. Rittmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Para-nitrophenol (PNP) is often detected in industrial wastewater that is discharged into municipal wastewater treatment plants. Intermittent discharge of PNP into municipal treatment facilities puts their biological process at risk of inhibition, and the risk is especially great for nitrification. In this work, nitrifying biomass was acclimated to PNP. The acclimated biomass retained most of its ammonium-removal activity when it was exposed to PNP at up to 100 mg/L, while the normal (unacclimated) biomass had nearly complete inhibition. PNP was effectively biodegraded by the acclimated biomass, but the normal biomass had minimal PNP biodegradation. After PNP disappeared, the acclimated biomass recovered its ability for NH4+–N removals within one to two days, but the normal biomass did not fully recovery even after seven days. The acclimated biomass had superior ability to sustain nitrification due to its ability to biodegrade PNP and its selection of nitrifying bacteria more resistant to PNP. The PNP-acclimated community was enriched in genera that could have been active in the biodegradation of PNP, such as Chloroflexi. Although the abundance of well-known nitrifiers, Nitrosomonas and Nitrospira, decreased, Nitrosospira and other genera within the Proetobacteria phylum increased, presumably because they were more resistant to PNP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number146697
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Aug 10 2021


  • Acclimated nitrifying sludge biomass
  • Biodegradation
  • Nitrification
  • para-nitrophenol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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