Author(s): Kim DS, Thomas S, Fogler HS
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Abstract Laboratory experiments have definitively shown that exopolymer-producing bacteria have the potential to modify the flow of fluids in oil reservoirs to enhance oil production. Once injected into the reservoir, they will be subjected to a wide range of pH values and to starvation resulting from nutrient depletion. For successful field implementation it is necessary to have a fundamental understanding of these effects on the viability of bacteria. This paper addresses the effects of pH and trace minerals on cell viability of Leuconostoc mesenteroides during carbon source depletion. Two different carbon sources were used to grow cells before transferring the cells to starvation conditions: sucrose and a combination of glucose and fructose. These substrates were chosen because L. mesenteroides produces a significant amount of water-insoluble exopolymers (dextran) under sucrose-fed conditions, which may enhance cell survival under harsh conditions. The effects of dextran on the cell viability were tested at different pH values with and without trace minerals. The rate of cell death followed an exponential-decay law for different values of the solution pH. The optimal solution pH for survival was pH 5, whereas cells died rapidly at pH 3 and below and at pH 13 and above. The sucrose-fed cells showed a greater viability than cells fed glucose and fructose for all pH ranges tested. The results indicated that water-insoluble exopolymers help cells survive for longer periods of time under starvation conditions. The effects of trace minerals on cell culturability were tested at two pH values, 4.5 and 7. For both cases, cells showed a greater culturability (smaller decay rate constant) in the presence of trace minerals than without trace minerals. It was also found that the effects of trace minerals on cell culturability were greater for glucose-fructose-fed cells than for sucrose-fed cells. The Michaelis pH function theory was used for comparing the relationships between the cell decay rate and pH.
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
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