Populations of chemotactic bacteria are able to sense and respond to chemical gradients in their surroundings and direct their migration toward increasing concentrations of chemicals that they perceive to be beneficial to their survival. It has been suggested that this phenomenon may facilitate bioremediation processes by bringing bacteria into closer proximity to the chemical contaminants that they degrade. To determine the significance of chemotaxis in these processes it is necessary to quantify the magnitude of the response and compare it to other groundwater processes that affect the fate and transport of bacteria. We present a systematic approach toward quantifying the chemotactic response of bacteria in laboratory scale experiments by starting with simple, well-defined systems and gradually increasing their complexity. Swimming properties of individual cells were assessed from trajectories recorded by a tracking microscope. These properties were used to calculate motility and chemotaxis coefficients of bacterial populations in bulk aqueous media which were compared to experimental results of diffusion studies. Then effective values of motility and chemotaxis coefficients in single pores, pore networks and packed columns were analyzed. These were used to estimate the magnitude of the chemotactic response in porous media and to compare with dispersion coefficients reported in the field. This represents a compilation of many studies over a number of years. While there are certainly limitations with this approach for ultimately quantifying motility and chemotaxis in granular aquifer media, it does provide insight into what order of magnitude responses are possible and which characteristics of the bacteria and media are expected to be important. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Role of chemotaxis in the transport of bacteria through saturated porous media