Transport of silica encapsulated DNA microparticles in controlled instantaneous injection open channel experiments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Surface water tracing is a widely used technique to investigate in-stream mass transport including contaminant migration. Recently, a microparticle tracer was developed with unique synthetic DNA encapsulated in an environmentally-friendly silica coating (Si-DNA microparticle). Previous tracing applications of such tracers reported detection and quantification, but a massive loss of tracer mass. However, the transport behavior of these DNA-tagged microparticle tracers has not been rigorously quantified and compared with that of solute tracers. Therefore, we compared the transport behavior of Si-DNA microparticles to the behavior of solute NaCl in 6 different, environmentally representative water types using breakthrough curves (BTCs), obtained from laboratory open channel injection experiments, whereby no Si-DNA microparticle tracer mass was lost. Hereafter, we modelled the BTCs using a 1-D advection-dispersion model with one transient storage zone (OTIS) by calibrating the hydrodynamic dispersion coefficient D and a storage zone exchange rate coefficient. We concluded that the transport behavior of Si-DNA microparticles resembled that of NaCl in surface-water relevant conditions, evidenced by BTCs with a similar range of D; however, the Si-DNA microparticle had a more erratic BTC than its solute counterpart, whereby the scatter increased as a function of water quality complexity. The overall larger confidence interval of DSi-DNA was attributed to the discrete nature of colloidal particles with a certain particle size distribution and possibly minor shear-induced aggregations. This research established a solid methodological foundation for field application of Si-DNA microparticles in surface water tracing, providing insight in transport behavior of equivalent sized and mass particles in rivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103880
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • DNA
  • Hydrodynamic dispersion
  • Microparticle tracers
  • Surface water


Dive into the research topics of 'Transport of silica encapsulated DNA microparticles in controlled instantaneous injection open channel experiments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this