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Factors that Influence the Transport of Bacillus cereus Spores through Sand


The goal of this study is to clarify the surface-chemical and microphysical variables that influence bacterial spore transport through soil, thereby defining the factors that may affect spore transport velocity. Bacillus cereus spores were continuously monitored in a soil column under saturated conditions with experimental variations in soil grain size (0.359 and 0.718 mm), pH (7.2 and 8.5), and water flow rate (1.3 and 3.0 mL/min). Increasing soil grain size, flow rate, and pH resulted in enhanced spore movement. Spore transport increased 82% when soil grain size was doubled. An increase in effluent flow rate from 1.3 to 3.0 mL/min increased spore movement by 71%. An increase in pH increased spore transport by 53%. The increase in hydrodynamic forces resulting from the larger grain size soil and higher flow rate functioned to overcome the hydrophobic nature of the spore’s coat, and the interparticle bonding forces between the spore and soil particles.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the Homeland Security Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research of the University of Arizona for the support of this research.

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Correspondence to Minyoung Kim.

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Kim, M., Boone, S.A. & Gerba, C.P. Factors that Influence the Transport of Bacillus cereus Spores through Sand. Water Air Soil Pollut 199, 151–157 (2009).

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  • Groundwater contamination
  • Spore transport
  • Bacillus cereus
  • pH
  • Flow rate
  • Soil grain size