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Mycelial Effects on Phage Retention during Transport in a Microfluidic Platform

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journal contribution
posted on 30.09.2019, 16:35 by Nawras Ghanem, Claire E. Stanley, Hauke Harms, Antonis Chatzinotas, Lukas Y. Wick
Phages (i.e., viruses that infect bacteria) have been considered as good tracers for the hydrological transport of colloids and (pathogenic) viruses. However, little is known about interactions of phages with (fungal) mycelia as the prevalent soil microbial biomass. Forming extensive and dense networks, mycelia provide significant surfaces for phage–hyphal interactions. Here, for the first time, we quantified the mycelial retention of phages in a microfluidic platform that allowed for defined fluid exchange around hyphae. Two common lytic tracer phages (Escherichia coli phage T4 and marine phage PSA-HS2) and two mycelia of differing surface properties (Coprinopsis cinerea and Pythium ultimum) were employed. Phage–hyphal interaction energies were approximated by the extended Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (XDLVO) approach of colloidal interaction. Our data show initial hyphal retention of phages of up to ≈4 × 107 plaque-forming unit (PFU) mm–2 (≈2550 PFU mm–2 s–1) with a retention efficiency depending on the hyphal and, to a lesser extent, the phage surface properties. Experimental data were supported by XDLVO calculations, which revealed the highest attractive forces for the interaction between hydrophobic T4 phages and hydrophobic C. cinerea surfaces. Our data suggest that mycelia may be relevant for the retention of phages in the subsurface and need to be considered in subsurface phage tracer studies. Mycelia–phage interactions may further be exploited for the development of novel strategies to reduce or hinder the transport of undesirable (bio) colloidal entities in environmental filter systems.