Acesulfame aerobic biodegradation by enriched consortia and Chelatococcus spp. Kinetics, transformation products, and genomic characterization

Yue Huang, Yu Deng, Japhet Cheuk-Fung Law, Yu Yang, Jiahui Ding, Kelvin Sze-Yin Leung, Tong Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The artificial sweetener Acesulfame (ACE) has been frequently detected in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and is regarded as an emerging pollutant due to its low biodegradability. However, recent observations of ACE biodegradation in WWTPs have stimulated interest in the ACE-degrading bacteria and mineralization pathways. In this study, next-generation sequencing methods, Illumina and Nanopore sequencing, were combined to explore the ACE-degrading communities enriched from the activated sludge of six municipal wastewater treatment plants. Metagenomic investigations indicated that all enrichments were similarly dominated by the phyla Proteobacteria and Planctomycetes. Notably, at the species level, four metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) were shared by six enriched communities with considerable abundances, indicating that they may be responsible for ACE biodegradation in the enrichments. Besides, two ACE-degrading pure strains, affiliated to the genus Chelatococcus, were isolated from the enrichment. The genomic analysis showed that these two isolates were the new species that were genetically distinct from their relatives. Two type strains, Chelatococcus asaccharovorans DSM 6462 and Chelatococcus composti DSM 101465, could not degrade ACE, implying that the ACE-degrading capability was not shared among the different species in the genus Chelatococcus. The results of the degradation experiment showed that the two isolates could use ACE as the sole carbon source and mineralize ~90% of the total organic carbon. Three biotransformation products (TP96, TP180B, and TP182B) were demonstrated by UPLC-QTOF-MS. The results of this study provide valuable insights into ACE biodegradation and its biotransformation products.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117454
Number of pages8
JournalWater Research
Early online date23 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acesulfame
  • Biodegradation
  • Chelatococcus
  • Genome-centric
  • Transformation products


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