Many organic pollutants, especially synthetic surfactants, adsorb onto solid surfaces in natural and engineered aquatic environments. Biofilm bacteria on such surfaces make major contributions to microbial heterotrophic activity and biodegradation of organic pollutants. This paper reviews evidence for multiple interactions between surfactants, biodegradative bacteria, and sediment-liquid interfaces. Biodegradable surfactants e.g. SDS, added to a river-water microcosm were rapidly adsorb to sediment surface and stimulated the indigenous bacteria to attach to the sediment particles. Recalcitrant surfactants and non-surfactant organic nutrients did not stimulate attachment Attachment of bacteria was maximal when biodegradation was fastest, and was reversed when biodegradation was complete. Dodecanol, the primary product of SDS-biodegradation, markedly stimulated attachment. When SDS was added to suspensions containing sediment and either known degraders or known non-degraders, only the degraders became attached, and attachment accelerated surfactant biodegradation to dodecanol. These cyclical cooperative interactions have implications for the design of biodegradability-tests, the impact of surfactant adjuvants on biodegradability of herbicides/pesticides formulated with surfactants, and the role of surfactants used to accelerate bioremediation of hydrocarbon-polluted soils.

You do not currently have access to this content.