Metabolism of Ibuprofen by Phragmites australis: Uptake and Phytodegradation

Yujie He, Alette A.M. Langenhoff, Nora B. Sutton, Huub H.M. Rijnaarts, Marco H. Blokland, Feiran Chen, Christian Huber, Peter Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


This study explores ibuprofen (IBP) uptake and transformation in the wetland plant species Phragmites australis and the underlying mechanisms. We grew P. australis in perlite under greenhouse conditions and treated plants with 60 μg/L of IBP. Roots and rhizomes (RR), stems and leaves (SL), and liquid samples were collected during 21 days of exposure. Results show that P. australis can take up, translocate, and degrade IBP. IBP was completely removed from the liquid medium after 21 days with a half-life of 2.1 days. IBP accumulated in RR and was partly translocated to SL. Meanwhile, four intermediates were detected in the plant tissues: hydroxy-IBP, 1,2-dihydroxy-IBP, carboxy-IBP and glucopyranosyloxy-hydroxy-IBP. Cytochrome P450 monooxygenase was involved in the production of the two hydroxy intermediates. We hypothesize that transformation of IBP was first catalyzed by P450, and then by glycosyltransferase, followed by further storage or metabolism in vacuoles or cell walls. No significant phytotoxicity was observed based on relative growth of plants and stress enzyme activities. In conclusion, we demonstrated for the first time that P. australis degrades IBP from water and is therefore a suitable species for application in constructed wetlands to clean wastewater effluents containing IBP and possibly also other micropollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4576-4584
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 18 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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