Bacterial Adhesion and Transport in the Subsurface Environment

EPA Grant Number: U915947
Title: Bacterial Adhesion and Transport in the Subsurface Environment
Investigators: Walker, Sharon L.
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through May 1, 2004
Project Amount: $97,750
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Other Engineering , Academic Fellowships , Engineering and Environmental Chemistry


The overall goal of this research project is to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling the adhesion and mobility of bacteria in groundwater, which is important for in situ bioremediation applications and the analysis of pathogen transport from sources such as groundwater recharge with treated wastewater. The specific objectives of this research project are to: (1) systematically investigate the effect of geochemical subsurface heterogeneity on bacterial adhesion and transport; (2) demonstrate the extent to which bacterial surface characteristics play a role in bacterial adhesion and transport in the subsurface environment; and (3) provide a molecular-level understanding and quantification of bacterial adhesion. An additional long-term goal is to provide the necessary scientific base for developing accurate predictive models for bacterial transport in the subsurface.


The application and study of bacterial adhesion has previously included medical applications such as dentistry, prosthetics, and biofilms. I will focus on understanding phenomena in subsurface environments. In my laboratory experiments, I have studied the transport of bacterial strains through a packed-bed column, simulating naturally occurring porous media. I also have studied bacterial adhesion using a stagnation point-flow system. Through this work, I have evaluated the relative impact on adhesion of bacterial surface polymers, including lipopolysaccharides and extracellular polymeric substances.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, bacterial adhesion, extracellular polymeric substances, EPS, subsurface environment, lipopolysaccharides.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • Final