Adhesion to sand and ability to mineralise low pesticide concentrations are required for efficient bioaugmentation of flow-through sand filters

Elin Djurhuus Samuelsen, Nora Badawi, Ole Nybroe, Sebastian R. Sørensen, Jens Aamand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Pesticide-polluted drinking water may be remediated by inoculating waterworks sand filters with specific degrading bacteria. However, degradation efficiency is often hampered by the poor adhesion behaviour of the introduced bacteria. The phenoxy acid herbicide 4-chloro-2-methyl-phenoxy-acetic acid (MCPA) is a widespread groundwater contaminant. The aim of this study was to investigate whether specific surface characteristics of MCPA-degrading bacteria could be linked to their degrading capabilities in sand filters. Four MCPA degraders with different taxonomic affiliations and original habitats (Sphingomonas sp. PM2, Sphingomonas sp. ERG5, Burkholderia sp. TFD34, Cupriavidus sp. TFD38) were characterised with regard to their motility, cell surface hydrophobicity, biofilm formation, adhesion behaviour and ability to mineralise MCPA. Strains PM2 and ERG5 were non-motile and hydrophobic, whilst strains TFD34 and TFD38 were motile and less hydrophobic. All the strains except ERG5 showed low biofilm formation on polystyrene, although it was significantly higher on glass. PM2 was the most efficient MCPA degrader as it displayed no lag phase and reached >50 % mineralisation at all concentrations (0.0016–25 mg L −1). PM2 adhered significantly better to sand than the other strains. No link was found between motility, biofilm formation and the ability to adhere to sand. PM2 completely removed MCPA for 14 days when inoculated in sand columns with a constant inlet of 1 mg L −1 MCPA. These results demonstrate that besides the ability to degrade the contaminant, surface hydrophobicity and adherence abilities are significant parameters controlling sustained degradation in flow-through sand columns and must be considered when selecting bacteria for bioaugmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-421
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Adhesion
  • Bioaugmentation
  • Degradation
  • MCPA
  • Sand filter

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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