Effect of pH on bacteriophage transport through sandy soils

Takashi Kinoshita, Roger C. Bales, Kimberley M. Maguire, Charles P. Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Effects of pH and hydrophobicity on attachment and detachment of PRD-1 and MS-2 in three different sandy soils were investigated in a series of laboratory-column experiments. Concentrations of the lipid-containing phage PRD-1 decreased 3-4 orders of magnitude during passage through the 10-15-cm-long columns. Attachment of the lipid-containing phage PRD-1 was insensitive to pH and was apparently controlled by hydrophobic interactions in soil media. The less-hydrophobic phage MS-2 acted conservatively; it was not removed in the columns at pH's 5.7-8.0. The sticking efficiency (α) in a colloid-filtration model was between 0.1 and 1 for PRD-1, indicating a relatively high removal efficiency. Phage attachment was reversible, but detachment under steady-state conditions was slow. An increase in pH had a moderate effect on enhancing detachment. Still, these soils should continue to release phage to virus-free water for days to weeks following exposure to virus-containing water. In sandy soils with a mass-fraction organic carbon as low as a few hundredths of a percent, pH changes in the range 5.7-8.0 should have little effect on retention of more-hydrophobic virus (e.g., PRD-1), in that retardation will be dominated by hydrophobic effects. Sharp increases in pH should enhance detachment and transport of virus previously deposited on soil grains. A more hydrophilic virus (e.g., MS-2) will transport as a conservative tracer in low-carbon sandy soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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