Influence of a rhamnolipid biosurfactant on the transport of bacteria through a sandy soil

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The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of an anionic rhamnolipid biosurfactant on the transport of bacterial cells through soil under saturated conditions. Three cell types with various hydrophobicities, i.e., Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 9027, ATCC 27853, and ATCC 15442, were used in this study. In a series of experiments, columns packed with sterile sand were saturated with sterile artificial groundwater for 15 h, and then 3 pore volumes of 3H-labeled bacterial suspensions with various rhamnolipid concentrations was pumped through the column. This was followed by 4 pore volumes of the rhamnolipid solution alone. The measured bacterial cell breakthrough curves were optimized by using an advection- dispersion transport model incorporating two-domain reversible sorption (instantaneous and rate limited) and with two first-order sink terms for irreversible adsorption. The influence of the rhamnolipid on the surface charge densities of the bacteria and the porous medium was also investigated. The results show that the rhamnolipid enhanced the transport of all cell types tested. For example, the rhamnolipid increased the recovery of the most hydrophilic strain, ATCC 9027, from 22.5 to 56.3%. Similarly, the recovery of ATCC 27853 increased from 36.8 to 49.4%, and the recovery of ATCC 15442, the most hydrophobic strain, increased from 17.7 to 40.5% in the presence of the rhamnolipid. The negative surface charge density of the porous medium was increased, while the surface charge density of the bacteria was not changed in the presence of the rhamnolipid. The model results suggest that the rhamnolipid predominantly affected irreversible adsorption of cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1866-1873
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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