Biological sulfur oxidation in wastewater treatment: A review of emerging opportunities

Sen Lin, Hamish Mackey, Tianwei Hao, Gang Guo, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Guanghao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

23 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfide prevails in both industrial and municipal waste streams and is one of the most troublesome issues with waste handling. Various technologies and strategies have been developed and used to deal with sulfide for decades, among which biological means make up a considerable portion due to their low operation requirements and flexibility. Sulfur bacteria play a vital role in these biotechnologies. In this article, conventional biological approaches dealing with sulfide and functional microorganisms are systematically reviewed. Linking the sulfur cycle with other nutrient cycles such as nitrogen or phosphorous, and with continued focus of waste remediation by sulfur bacteria, has led to emerging biotechnologies. Furthermore, opportunities for energy harvest and resource recovery based on sulfur bacteria are also discussed. The electroactivity of sulfur bacteria indicates a broad perspective of sulfur-based bioelectrochemical systems in terms of bioelectricity production and bioelectrochemical synthesis. The considerable PHA accumulation, high yield and anoxygenic growth conditions in certain phototrophic sulfur bacteria could provide an interesting alternative for bioplastic production. In this review, new merits of biological sulfide oxidation from a traditional environmental management perspective as well as a waste to resource perspective are presented along with their potential applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-415
Number of pages17
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018



  • Biological sulfur oxidation
  • Energy and resource recovery
  • Sulfur bacteria
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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