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Illuminating reactive microbial transport in saturated porous media: demonstration of a visualization method and conceptual transport model



Illuminating reactive microbial transport in saturated porous media: demonstration of a visualization method and conceptual transport model



Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 77(4): 233-245



We demonstrate a method to study reactive microbial transport in saturated translucent porous media using the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens 5RL genetically engineered to carry a plasmid with bioluminescence genes inducible by salicylate. Induced bacteria were injected into a cryolite grain filled chamber saturated with a sterile non-growth-promoting (phosphorus limited) chemical mixture containing salicylate as an aromatic hydrocarbon analogue. The amount of light produced by the bacteria serves as an estimator of the relative efficiency of aerobic biodegradation since bioluminescence is dependent on both salicylate and oxygen but only consumes oxygen. Bioluminescence was captured with a digital camera and analyzed to study the evolving spatial pattern of the bulk oxygen consuming reactions. As fluid flow transported the bacteria through the chamber, bioluminescence was observed to initially increase until an oxygen depletion zone developed behind the advective front. Bacterial transport was modeled with the advection dispersion equation and oxygen concentration was modeled assuming bacterial consumption via Monod kinetics with consideration of additional effects of rate-limited mass transfer from residual gas bubbles. Consistent with previous measurements, bioluminescence was considered proportional to oxygen consumed. Using the observed bioluminescence, model parameters were fit that were consistent with literature values and produced results in good agreement with the experimental data. These findings demonstrate potential for using this method to investigate the complex spatial and temporal dynamics of reactive microbial transport in saturated porous media.

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Accession: 004192706

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15854718

DOI: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2004.12.005


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