In this study, we aimed to develop an understanding of the triple effects of sulfamethoxazole– erythromycin–tetracycline (ETS) and the dual effects of sulfamethoxazole–tetracycline (ST), erythromycin–sulfamethoxazole (ES) and erythromycin–tetracycline (ET) on the anaerobic treatment of pharmaceutical industry wastewater throughout a year of operation.
Concentrations of the antibiotics in the influent were gradually increased until the metabolic collapse of the anaerobic sequencing batch reactors (SBRs), which corresponded to ETS (40 þ 3 þ 3 mg/L) and ST (25 þ 2.5 mg/L), ET (4 þ 4 mg/L) and ES (3 þ 40 mg/L). Acetate accumulation in the anaerobic SBRs, acetoclastic activity of the anaerobic sludge taken from different antibiotic feeding stages and also expression of acetyl-coA synthetase from the acetoclastic methanogenic pathway on the mRNA level were assessed. The results indicated that, while acetate accumulation and decrease of acetoclastic activity were observed after stage 3 in the ST and ES reactors, and stage 7 in the ETS and ET reactors, the expression of acetyl-coA synthetase was mostly decreased in the last stages in all SBRs, in which antibiotic mixture feeding was terminated. It might be speculated that acetoclastic methanogens have an important role in acetate degradation by expressing acetyl-coA synthetase.