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Water Res. 2010 Feb;44(4):1182-92. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2008.11.038. Epub 2008 Dec 6.

Transport of selected bacterial pathogens in agricultural soil and quartz sand.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B2, Canada.


The protection of groundwater supplies from microbial contamination necessitates a solid understanding of the key factors controlling the migration and retention of pathogenic organisms through the subsurface environment. The transport behavior of five waterborne pathogens was examined using laboratory-scale columns packed with clean quartz at two solution ionic strengths (10 mM and 30 mM). Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Yersinia enterocolitica were selected as representative Gram-negative pathogens, Enterococcus faecalis was selected as a representative Gram-positive organism, and two cyanobacteria (Microcystis aeruginosa and Anabaena flos-aquae) were also studied. The five organisms exhibit differing attachment efficiencies to the quartz sand. The surface (zeta) potential of the microorganisms was characterized over a broad range of pH values (2-8) at two ionic strengths (10 mM and 30 mM). These measurements are used to evaluate the observed attachment behavior within the context of the DLVO theory of colloidal stability. To better understand the possible link between bacterial transport in model quartz sand systems and natural soil matrices, additional experiments were conducted with two of the selected organisms using columns packed with loamy sand obtained from an agricultural field. This investigation highlights the need for further characterization of waterborne pathogen surface properties and transport behavior over a broader range of environmentally relevant conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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