EMAIL THIS PAGE TO A FRIEND

Water research

Partitioning of phenanthrene into surfactant hemi-micelles on the bacterial cell surface and implications for surfactant-enhanced biodegradation.


PMID 23764610

Abstract

Recent studies have suggested that the ability of a surfactant to enhance the bioavailability of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOC) requires the formation of surfactant hemi-micelles on the bacterial cell surface and subsequent partitioning of HOC into the hemi-micelles. However, the studies did not provide direct evidence of HOC partitioning into surfactant hemi-micelles on the bacterial cell surface. In this study, direct evidence is provided to demonstrate that the nonionic surfactant Brij 30 forms hemi-micelles on the bacterial cell surface and that phenanthrene sorption at the bacterial surface is enhanced by the surfactant. These results are in agreement with the current theory describing surfactant-enhanced HOC bioavailability. This enhanced bioavailability is put into context with microbial kinetics and system partitioning processes, and it is demonstrated that the addition of surfactant can enhance, have no effect, or inhibit HOC biodegradation depending upon surfactant concentration and microbial growth rate. Understanding these non-linear relationships between surfactant-enhanced HOC bioavailability, biodegradation kinetics, and system partitioning will assist in the design and implementation of surfactant-enhanced bioremediation programs.