Effect of clays, metal oxides, and organic matter on rhamnolipid biosurfactant sorption by soil

Francisco J. Ochoa-Loza, Wouter H. Noordman, Dick B. Jannsen, Mark L. Brusseau, Raina M. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Rhamnolipids produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa have been proposed as soil washing agents for enhanced removal of metal and organic contaminants from soil. A potential limitation for the application of rhamnolipids is sorption by soil matrix components. The objective of this study is to empirically determine the contribution of representative soil constituents (clays, metal oxides, and organic matter) to sorption of the rhamnolipid form most efficient at metal complexation (monorhamnolipid). Sorption studies show that monorhamnolipid (R1) sorption is concentration dependent. At low R1 concentrations that are relevant for enhancing organic contaminant biodegradation, R1 sorption followed the order: hematite (Fe2O3) > kaolinite > MnO2 ≈ illite ≈ Ca-montmorillonite > gibbsite (Al(OH)3) > humic acid-coated silica. At high R1 concentrations, relevant for use in complexation/removal of metals or organics, R1 sorption followed the order: illite >> humic acid-coated silica > Ca-montmorillonite > hematite > MnO2 > gibbsite ≈ kaolinite. These results allowed prediction of R1 sorption by a series of six soils. Finally, a comparison of R1 and R2 (dirhamnolipid) shows that the R1 form sorbs more strongly alone than when in a mixture of both the R1 and R2 forms. The information presented can be used to estimate, on an individual soil basis, the extent of rhamnolipid sorption. This is important for determining: (1) whether rhamnolipid addition is a feasible remediation option and (2) the amount of rhamnolipid required to efficiently remove the contaminant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1634-1642
Number of pages9
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Bioremediation
  • Biosurfactant
  • Remediation
  • Rhamnolipid
  • Soil washing
  • Sorption
  • Surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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