A comprehensive ecotoxicological evaluation of a sulfamethazine (SMZ) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) mixture was conducted using an indicator microalga, Scenedesmus obliquus. The toxicological effects of this mixture were studied using microalgal growth patterns, biochemical characteristics (total chlorophyll, carotenoid, carbohydrate, fatty acid methyl ester), and elemental and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy analyses. The 96-h half maximal effective concentration (EC50) of the SMZ and SMX mixture was calculated to be 0.15 mg L−1 according to the dose-response curves obtained. The chlorophyll content decreased with elevated SMZ and SMX concentrations, while the carotenoid content initially increased and then decreased as concentration raised. The unsaturated fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) content was enhanced with higher SMZ and SMX concentrations, while that of saturated FAMEs simultaneously decreased due to SMZ and SMX stress. Elemental analyses showed an improved percentage of nitrogen and sulfur in the microalgal biomass as SMZ and SMX concentrations increased. The microalga S. obliquus was shown to biodegrade the chemicals tested and removed 31.4–62.3% of the 0.025–0.25 mg SMZ L−1 and 27.7–46.8% of the 0.025–0.25 mg SMX L−1 in the mixture after 12 days of cultivation. The greater biodegradation observed at higher SMZ and SMX concentrations indicates that microalgal degradation of SMZ and SMX could act as an efficient adaptive mechanism to antibiotics.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis