Integrated liquid chromatography method in enantioselective studies: biodegradation of ofloxacin by an activated sludge consortium

Alexandra S. Maia, Paula M. L. Castro, Maria Elizabeth Tiritan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Ofloxacin is a chiral fluoroquinolone commercialized as racemate and as its enantiomerically pure form levofloxacin. This work presents an integrated liquid chromatography (LC) method with fluorescence detection (FD) and exact mass spectrometry (EMS) developed to assess the enantiomeric biodegradation of ofloxacin and levofloxacin in laboratory-scale microcosms. The optimized enantioseparation conditions were achieved using a macrocyclic antibiotic ristocetin A-bonded CSP (150 × 2.1 mm i.d.; particle size 5 μm) under reversed-phase elution mode. The method was validated using a mineral salts medium as matrix and presented selectivity and linearity over a concentration range from 5 μg L−1 (quantification limit) to 350 μg L−1 for each enantiomer. The method was successfully applied to evaluate biodegradation of ofloxacin enantiomers at 250 μg L−1 by an activated sludge inoculum. Ofloxacin (racemic mixture) and (S)-enantiomer (levofloxacin) were degraded up to 58 and 52%, respectively. An additional degradable carbon source, acetate, enhanced biodegradation up to 23%. (S)-enantiomer presented the highest extent of degradation (66.8%) when ofloxacin was supplied along with acetate. Results indicated slightly higher biodegradation extents for the (S)-enantiomer when supplementation was done with ofloxacin. Degradation occurred faster in the first 3 days and proceeded slowly until the end of the assays. The chromatographic results from LC-FD suggested the formation of the (R)-enantiomer during levofloxacin biodegradation which was confirmed by LC–MS with a LTQ Orbitrap XL.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • Activated sludge
  • Biodegradation
  • Enantioselectivity
  • Levofloxacin
  • Macrocyclic antibiotic-based stationary phases
  • Ofloxacin


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