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Chemotaxis Increases the Retention of Bacteria in Porous Media with Residual NAPL Entrapment

Joanna S. T. Adadevoh, C. Andrew Ramsburg, Roseanne M. Ford
Environmental science & technology 2018 v.52 no.13 pp. 7289-7295
Pseudomonas putida, aquifers, bacteria, chemoattractants, chemotaxis, ganglia, migratory behavior, models, mutants, naphthalene, nonaqueous phase liquids, porous media, sand
Chemotaxis has the potential to decrease the persistence of nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL) contaminants in aquifers by allowing pollutant-degrading bacteria to move toward sources of contamination and thus influence dissolution. This experimental study investigated the migratory response of chemotactic bacteria to a distribution of residual NAPL ganglia entrapped within a laboratory-scale sand column under continuous-flow at a superficial velocity of 0.05 cm/min. Naphthalene dissolved in a model NAPL 2,2,4,4,6,8,8-heptamethylnonane partitioned into the aqueous phase to create localized chemoattractant gradients throughout the column. A pulse mixture of equal concentrations of Pseudomonas putida G7, a strain chemotactic to naphthalene, and Pseudomonas putida G7 Y1, a nonchemotactic mutant, was introduced to the column and effluent bacterial concentrations were measured with time. Breakthrough curves (BTCs) for the two strains were noticeably different upon visual inspection. Differences in BTCs (compared to nonchemotactic controls) were quantified in terms of percent recovery and were statistically significant (p < 0.01). Chemotaxis reduced percent recovery in the effluent by 45% thereby increasing the population of bacteria that were retained within the column in the vicinity of residual NAPL contaminants. An increase in flow rate to a superficial velocity of 0.25 cm/min did not diminish cell retention associated with the chemotactic effect.