Removal of bacterial plant pathogens in columns filled with quartz and natural sediments under anoxic and oxygenated conditions

Carina Eisfeld*, Jack F. Schijven, Jan M. van der Wolf, Gertjan Medema, Emiel Kruisdijk, Boris M. van Breukelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Irrigation with surface water carrying plant pathogens poses a risk for agriculture. Managed aquifer recharge enhances fresh water availability while simultaneously it may reduce the risk of plant diseases by removal of pathogens during aquifer passage. We compared the transport of three plant pathogenic bacteria with Escherichia coli WR1 as reference strain in saturated laboratory column experiments filled with quartz sand, or sandy aquifer sediments. E. coli showed the highest removal, followed by Pectobacterium carotovorum, Dickeya solani and Ralstonia solanacearum. Bacterial and non-reactive tracer breakthrough curves were fitted with Hydrus-1D and compared with colloid filtration theory (CFT). Bacterial attachment to fine and medium aquifer sand under anoxic conditions was highest with attachment rates of max. k att1 = 765 day -1 and 355 day -1, respectively. Attachment was the least to quartz sand under oxic conditions (k att1 = 61 day -1). In CFT, sticking efficiencies were higher in aquifer than in quartz sand but there was no differentiation between fine and medium aquifer sand. Overall removal ranged between < 6.8 log 10 m −1 in quartz and up to 40 log 10 m −1 in fine aquifer sand. Oxygenation of the anoxic aquifer sediments for two weeks with oxic influent water decreased the removal. The results highlight the potential of natural sand filtration to sufficiently remove plant pathogenic bacteria during aquifer storage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118724
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Plant pathogen transport
  • water quality
  • groundwater contamination
  • managed aquifer recharge
  • irrigation
  • aquifer recharge and recovery


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