Bioavailability is herein defined as the accessibility of a substrate by a microorganism. Further, bioavailability is governed by (1) the substrate concentration that the cell membrane “sees,” (i.e., the “directly bioavailable” pool) as well as (2) the rate of mass transfer from potentially bioavailable (e.g., nonaqueous) phases to the directly bioavailable (e.g., aqueous) phase. Mechanisms by which sorbed (bio)surfactants influence these two processes are discussed. We propose the hypothesis that the sorption of (bio)surfactants at the solid-liquid interface is partially responsible for the increased bioavailability of surface-bound nutrients, and offer this as a basis for suggesting the development of engineered in-situ bioremediation technologies that take advantage of low (bio)surfactant concentrations. In addition, other industrial systems where bioavailability phenomena should be considered are addressed.

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