We investigated the impact of conditioning compositions on the way bacteria move and adhere to reverse osmosis (RO) membranes that have been pre-conditioned by organic compounds. We used humic acid (HA), bovine serum albumin (BSA), and sodium alginate (SA) to simulate conditioning layers on the RO membranes. First, we investigated the chemotactic responses of Pseudomonas aeruginosa
PAO1 to the organic substances and the impact of changes in physicochemical characteristics of pre-conditioned membranes on bacterial attachment. Second, we observed bacterial attachment under the presence or absence of nutrients or microbial metabolic activity. Results showed that there was no relationship between the chemotactic response of P. aeruginosa
PAO1 and the organic substances, and the changes in hydrophobicity, surface free energy, and surface charge resulting from changing the composition of the conditioning layer did not seem to affect bacterial attachment, whereas changing the roughness of the conditioned membrane exponentially did (exponential correlation coefficient, R2
= 0.85). We found that the initial bacterial attachment on the membrane surface is influenced by (i) the nutrients in the feed solution and (ii) the microbial metabolic activity, whereas the chemotaxis response has a negligible impact. This study would help to establish a suitable strategy to manage bacterial attachment.
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