How can surface interactions of bacteria and natural soil particles help improve remediation practices?

Dr. Adi Radian; Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Technion

Natural surfaces such as clay minerals and oxides are key players in the physicochemical interaction between microorganisms and their environment. The presence of clay particles has been reported to enhances bacterial viability by providing minerals and nutrients and/or by stimulating the creation of biofilms. However, the interactions of bacteria and clay minerals is not trivial because bacteria and clays are usually both negatively charged and therefore, must overcome a potential energy barrier to interact. Here we will discuss possible interaction pathways of bacteria attachment to clay minerals and their impact on bacterial activity. Specifically, we explore the effect of solution chemistry and attachment-enhancing membrane appendages such as amyloids. The knowledge gained from these studies can then aid in immobilization of bacteria for different pollution mitigation and remediation strategies. Two examples of such clay-bacteria complexes will be presented: 1). Cyanobacteria complexation with natural and modified clays to prevent and treat algal blooms and, 2). The design of bacteria-polymer-clay composites for the adsorption and fast degradation of formaldehyde from industrial waste-streams. These sustainable and low-cost platforms have the potential to improve and advance remediation systems that are currently of difficult to treat.