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Surface Association of Motile Bacteria at Granular Porous Media Interfaces

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posted on 15.05.2009, 00:00 by Kevin Kusy, Roseanne M. Ford
Bacterial populations were observed using dark-field light scattering at porous media interfaces comprised of a dilute solution containing the polymer additives methylcellulose and a transparent particulate suspension composed of mechanically agitated Gelrite gellan gum. Population-scale experiments with a nonchemotactic smooth-swimming mutant, Escherichia coli HCB 437, yielded a variety of distinct and reproducible bacterial distributions that included highly concentrated bands of bacteria near the interface. While no physical attachment was observed between the bacteria and granular Gelrite media, the population exhibited surface associations characterized by reversible physical obstructions of the motile bacteria at the solid granular surfaces. These interactions decreased translational motion, which reduced bacterial migration and concentrated bacterial populations near the interface. Results from glass bead experiments indicated similar surface associations in high-surface area glass bead environments. Experimental results were semiquantitatively analyzed using a one-dimensional population-scale transport model. Theoretical profiles were generated using a single set of parameters and simultaneously compared with averaged bacterial distributions from multiple interface configurations. Parameter estimates were consistent with expected values. The agreement between the theoretical and experimental data suggests a quantifiable approach for modeling bacterial migration within high-surface area granular media environments.