Virus transport through groundwater is limited by attachment to mineral surfaces and inactivation. Current virus transport models do not consider the implications of the reversibility of virus attachment to minerals. To explore the reversibility of virus attachment to mineral surfaces, we attached PRD1, a bacteriophage considered to be a good model of enteric viruses, to quartz and ferric oxyhydroxide-coated quartz surfaces over a range of pH values in equilibrium 'static columns'. Following attachment, we detached the viruses by replacing the pore solution with solutions of equal and higher pH. The extent of virus attachment followed an attachment 'edge' that occurred at a pH value about 2.5-3.5 pH units above the pH(IEP) of the mineral surfaces. Viruses attached below this edge were irreversibly attached until the pH of the detachment solution exceeded the pH value of the attachment edge. Viruses attached above this edge were reversibly attached. Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DEVO) potential energy calculations showed that the attachment edge occurred at the pH at which the potential energy of the primary minimum was near zero, implying that the position of the primary minimum (attractive or repulsive) controlled the equilibrium distribution of the viruses. The results suggest that the reversibility of virus attachment must be considered in virus transport models for accurate predictions of virus travel time.
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The reversibility of virus attachment to mineral surfaces