In this study, we evaluated the biotransformation mechanisms of lincomycin (LIN) and three fluoroquinolone antibiotics (FQs), ciprofloxacin (CFX), norfloxacin (NFX), and ofloxacin (OFX), which regularly enter aquatic environments through human activities, by different ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms (AOM). The organisms included a pure culture of the complete ammonia oxidizer (comammox) Nitrospira inopinata, an ammonia oxidizing archaeon (AOA) Nitrososphaera gargensis, and an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium (AOB) Nitrosomonas nitrosa Nm90. The removal of these antibiotics by the pure microbial cultures and the protein-normalized biotransformation rate constants indicated that LIN was significantly co-metabolically biotransformed by AOA and comammox, but not by AOB. CFX and NFX were significantly co-metabolized by AOA and AOB, but not by comammox. None of the tested cultures transformed OFX effectively. Generally, AOA showed the best biotransformation capability for LIN and FQs, followed by comammox and AOB. The transformation products and their related biotransformation mechanisms were also elucidated. i) The AOA performed hydroxylation, S-oxidation, and demethylation of LIN, as well as nitrosation and cleavage of the piperazine moiety of CFX and NFX; ii) the AOB utilized nitrosation to biotransform CFX and NFX; and iii) the comammox carried out hydroxylation, demethylation, and demethylthioation of LIN. Hydroxylamine, an intermediate of ammonia oxidation, chemically reacted with LIN and the selected FQs, with removals exceeding 90%. Collectively, these findings provide important fundamental insights into the roles of different ammonia oxidizers and their intermediates on LIN and FQ biotransformation in nitrifying environments including wastewater treatment systems.
- Ammonia oxidizers