Viral Aggregation: Impact on Virus Behavior in the Environment

Charles P. Gerba, Walter Q. Betancourt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Aggregates of viruses can have a significant impact on quantification and behavior of viruses in the environment. Viral aggregates may be formed in numerous ways. Viruses may form crystal like structures and aggregates in the host cell during replication or may form due to changes in environmental conditions after virus particles are released from the host cells. Aggregates tend to form near the isoelectric point of the virus, under the influence of certain salts and salt concentrations in solution, cationic polymers, and suspended organic matter. The given conditions under which aggregates form in the environment are highly dependent on the type of virus, type of salts in solution (cation, anion. monovalent, divalent) and pH. However, virus type greatly influences the conditions when aggregation/disaggregation will occur, making predictions difficult under any given set of water quality conditions. Most studies have shown that viral aggregates increase the survival of viruses in the environment and resistance to disinfectants, especially with more reactive disinfectants. The presence of viral aggregates may also result in overestimation of removal by filtration processes. Virus aggregation-disaggregation is a complex process and predicting the behavior of any individual virus is difficult under a given set of environmental circumstances without actual experimental data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7318-7325
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 5 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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