Exploring the efficiency of tide flow constructed wetlands for treating mariculture wastewater: A comprehensive study on antibiotic removal mechanism under salinity stress

Journal Article
Antibiotic residues in aquaculture environment pose persistent threats to ecology and human health, exacerbated by salt-alkali mariculture wastewater. Yet, little is known about antibiotic removal in tidal flow constructed wetlands (TFCWs) under salinity stress, especially considering TFCW constitution, configuration, and influent water characteristics. Here, the removal performance and mechanism of different TFCWs for sulfonamide antibiotics (SAs: sulfadiazine, sulfamethazine, sulfamonomethoxine, and sulfamethoxazole) and trimethoprim (TMP) from mariculture wastewater (with low, medium, and high salinity) were evaluated alongside comparisons of environmental factors and microbial responses. Results showed substantial reduction in alkalinity (from 8.25–8.26 to 7.65–8.18), salinity (from 3.67–11.30 ppt to 3.20–10.79 ppt), and SAs concentrations (from 7.79–15.46 mg/L to 0.25–10.00 mg/L) for mariculture wastewater using TFCWs. Zeolite and yellow flag configurations exhibited superior performance in SAs removal from mariculture wastewater. Furthermore, the salt-alkali neutralization and oxygen transport capabilities of zeolite, along with the salt-alkali tolerance and biofilm formation characteristics of yellow flag, promoted the development of a biofilm in the rhizosphere dominated by oxidative stress tolerance and facultative anaerobic traits, thereby improving the TFCW microenvironment. Consequently, aerobic (Sulfuritalea and Enterobacter) and salt-tolerant (Pseudomonas) functional bacteria involved in antibiotic degradation were selectively enriched in the zeolite- and yellow flag-TFCWs, contributing to the effective biodegradation of SAs (achieving removal efficiency of 92–97 %). Besides, the high salt-alkali levels of mariculture wastewater and the strong oxygen-enriched capacity of the TFCWs not only enhanced the aerobic oxidation reaction of SAs, but also bidirectionally inhibited the substrate adsorption and anaerobic reduction process of TMP. These findings address a critical gap by investigating the efficacy of TFCWs in removing antibiotics from mariculture wastewater under various salinity conditions, providing essential insights for optimizing wetland design and improving wastewater management in mariculture environments.