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Sistema de Información Científica
Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal
INFLUENCE OF PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL SOIL PROPERTIES ON THE ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
Filipe BEHRENDS KRAEMER
1,2
, Celio Ignácio CHAGAS
1
, Héctor José María MORRÁS
2
,
Juan MORETTON
3
, Marta PAZ
3
and Lucas Alejandro GARIBALDI
4,5
1
Facultad de Agronomía UBA, Av. San Martín 4453 (1417). CABA, Argentina
2
INTA, Instituto de Suelos Castelar. Las Cabañas y De Los Reseros s/n (1712) Villa Udaondo Castelar/Hur-
lingham. Buenos Aires
3
Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica UBA. Junín 954 (1113). CABA. Argentina
4
Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA-CONICET y Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche-Universidad Nacional
del Comahue, Quintral 1250, 8400 Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina
5
Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos Aplicados y Sistemas de Información. Facultad de Agronomía UBA,
Av. San Martín 4453 (1417). CABA, Argentina
*Corresponding author: flipebk@agro.uba.ar
(Recibido febrero 2012, aceptado octubre 2012)
Key words: water pollution, grazing, bacterial adsorption, Argiudolls, Natraqualfs
ABSTRACT
Bacterial adsorption on soils and sediments is one of the main factors that control bacte-
rial transport to water bodies. In this work, 32 soil samples representative oF the most im
-
portant arable areas of the Rolling Pampa region (Argiudolls) and bottomlands devoted
to livestock production (NatraqualFs) were analyzed in order to evaluate bacterial-soil
adsorption. The frst axis oF a principal component analysis explained 45% oF the total
variation among soils in 11 physical and chemical properties, and was strongly and
positively related to bacterial adsorption (r
2
=0.67). Soil bacterial adsorption presented
a large range oF values (25-73%), being those For Argiudolls signifcantly higher than
those For NatraqualFs. ±or both soils, cation exchange capacity (CEC) (r
2
=0.67) and
clay content (r
2
=0.55) were positively associated with bacterial adsorption; whereas
exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) showed a negative tendency (r
2
=0.42). It is
concluded that in the basin studied, granulometry, CEC and ESP proved to be impor-
tant properties to discriminate bacterial-soil adsorption, and the following equation
to estimate mean soil bacterial adsorption in these soils is proposed:
y=1.73
×
CEC
– 0.05
×
sand(50-250 μm)[g kg
–1
]–0.54
×
ESP
(
R
2
adjust=0.77
). These results would
help to monitor water quality of surface water bodies by the development of bacterial
transport models using standard soil data.
Palabras clave: contaminación hídrica, pastoreo, adsorción bacteriana, Argiudoles, Natracualfes
RESUMEN
La adsorción bacteriana a suelos y sedimentos es uno de los principales factores que
controlan el transporte bacteriano hacia los cuerpos de agua. En este trabajo se analizó
la adsorción bacteriana en 32 muestras de suelos representativas del área agrícola más
Rev. Int. Contam. Ambie. 29 (1) 7-20, 2013
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
8
importante de la región de la Pampa Ondulada (Argiudoles) y de las áreas bajas aso-
ciadas con uso ganadero (Natracualfes). En el análisis de componentes principales el
primer eje explicó en 45% de la variación total de los suelos en 11 propiedades físicas
y químicas y se relacionó de forma positiva con la adsorción bacteriana (r
2
=0.67). Esta
adsorción bacteriana presentó un importante rango de valores (25-73%), encontrándose
para los Argiudoles valores signiFcativamente más altos que para los Natracualfes.
Para ambos tipos de suelos, la adsorción bacteriana se correlacionó positivamente
con la capacidad de intercambio catiónico (CIC) (r
2
=0.67) y el contenido de arcilla
(r
2
=0.55); mientras que el porcentaje de sodio intercambiable (PSI) presentó una ten-
dencia negativa (r
2
=0.42). Se concluyó que en los suelos de la cuenca bajo estudio la
granulometría, la CIC y el PSI son importantes propiedades para evaluar los procesos de
adsorción bacteriana en el suelos y se propone la siguiente ecuación para su predicción
en estos tipos de suelos:
y=1.73
×
CIC – 0.05
×
arena (50-250 μm) [g kg
–1
]–0.54
×
PSI
(
R
2
ajust=0.77).
Estos resultados proporcionan elementos para el modelado de la calidad
de los cuerpos superFciales de agua utilizando datos estándares de suelos.
INTRODUCTION
The understanding of bacterial transport through
soils is essential for the modeling of biological con-
tamination in soils and waters. Several authors have
developed both mechanistic and empirical models
of bacterial transport (Moore
et al.
1989, Tian
et
al.
2002, Walker
et al.
1990), aiming to predict the
movement of pathogens from farm systems into
lentic and lotic waters. However, there are important
information gaps regarding the factors that affect
bacterial transport and exchange between ecosys
-
tems. In this sense, the association between soils,
sediments, and microorganisms has not been sufF
-
ciently addressed in agricultural basins. Knowledge
on the factors affecting this association is essential
for the understanding of the microbial ecology in
these subsystems and would have direct applications
in livestock and manure management and conta
-
minated soils treatment (Ling
et al.
2002) and in
the generation of early alert systems of biological
contamination, among others.
The most common indices used to characterize
the association of bacteria on solid surfaces are the
adsorption percentage and distribution coefFcient
(Reddy 1981, Ling
et al.
2002). Although numerous
works on these indices have been published in the last
decade, the information about faecal bacteria in the soil
is still limited. These contaminants can be transported
by surface run-off and underground percolation in
the form of free cells or in association with particles
(Tyrrel
et al.
2003, Jamieson
et al.
2004). Drozd and
Schwartzbrod (1996) reported that the adsorption of
pathogens to the soil cannot be attributed to only one
factor since there are different forces that interact in
this process. The mechanisms proposed include Van
der Waal forces, protonation phenomena, and cationic
bridges, among others. These mechanisms depend
on the physical and chemical properties of each soil
type (Schijven
et al.
2002). Some soil components
and properties have been relatively more studied than
others, such as clay content (Weaver
et al.
1978, Ling
et al.
2002) and clay mineralogy (Jian
et al.
2007),
pH (Reddy
et al.
1981), ionic strength (Fontes
et al.
1991, Stevik
et al.
1999), CEC (Stotzky 1985) and the
content of multivalent cations (Marshall 1980). Along
with these soil properties, bacteria cell wall properties
(Gannon
et al.
1991) and extracellular polymeric subs
-
tances (Cao 2011, Wei
et al.
2011 ) could also interact
with this adsorption process.
Soils constitute complex microhabitats that
present highly variable components and structural
organization (Marshall 1985). Soil surfaces present
environments with different behaviours, which re-
sult from being covered by minerals of clay, oxides
and organic matter, and different charges, which
depend on pH and are subject to the ±uctuations of
the concentration of electrolytes. The aggregation
of particles with organic matter or clay minerals can
modify this microhabitat, and thus affect bacterial
transport, sedimentation and survival (Labelle and
Gerba, 1979). It is also important to consider the
type of clays, which may modify the physicochemi-
cal status of the microhabitat and thus the microbio-
logical balance of the site (Marshall 1975, Stozky
1985). The heterogeneity of these microhabitats
restricts the direct application of many mechanistic
concepts of adhesion such as the DVLO theory or
the critical surface tension, since those theories as-
sume homogeneous and clean surfaces (Tadros 1980
in Stoztky 1985). This complexity would explain
the scarce information available on the form and
ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
9
place where these bacterial adsorption phenomena
occur (Stotzky 1985). All this has impaired the
characterization of the variables mentioned in unal-
tered soil samples with wide ranges of variability
and thus hinder the transfer of information towards
monitoring activities or the construction of models
of contamination.
The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects
of soil characteristics on
Escherichia coli
adsorption
in soils from a representative basin of the Rolling
Pampas (Argentina). Previous studies on biological
contamination in the basin of the Tala´s creek in the
Rolling Pampas of Argentina have demonstrated
that soil erosion promoted by rainfall and conta-
mination were closely related (Dorner
et al.
2006,
Chagas 2007). Soils from this region are prone to
sealing and crusting processes due to their large
silt content. High intensity rainfall events and lar-
ge slope lengths have caused erosion processes in
these fragile soils both the arable Argiudolls from
the uplands and the non arable Natraqualfs located
in the bottomlands (Bujan
et al.
2000, 2003). Long
term soil erosion was promoted mainly by intensive
annual cropping activities in the arable soils as well
as cattle overgrazing both in arable and non arable
soils. The resulting sediments with adsorption capa-
city of both chemical and biological contaminants
have been transported by surface runoff water and
then deposited on topsoils along the slopes (Chagas
et al.
2007). Thus, the adsorption processes can
take place Frstly in higher areas due to crop residue
grazing by cattle and then in lower areas devoted
to rangeland before reaching main water courses.
Our speciFc aims were to: a) describe some im
-
portant soil properties, their spatial variability, and
the interrelationship of soils from the Tala´s creek
basin, b) evaluate the adsorption of
E. coli
in this
system and correlate this with soil properties, c)
analyze the elements that are necessary to obtain a
simple predictive model of bacterial adsorption, as
well as obtaining local adsorption values, that allow
comparison with data from other soils.
N
Ramallo
County
San Pedro
County
Colonia Veláz
(Natraqualfs)
Campo Ríos
(Vertic Argiudoll)
Los Patricios
(Typic and vertic
Argiudolls; Natraqualfs)
Del Tala´s creek
Del Ta
la´s creek
San Pedro
11 2km
0
La Esperanza
(Typic Argiudoll)
Sta. Lucía
(Typic Argiudoll)
Del Tala´s creek
Temporary
stream
Prov. Córdoba
Prov. Santa Fé
Prov.
Entre Ríos
Prov.
Buenos Aires
Partido de
San Pedro
Natraqualfs Arguidolls
01
km
Seco
n
dary road
Bartolomé Mitre
County
59º 55´ 10.42”
33º 47´ 38.18”
“Los Patricios”
Farm
Paraná river
N
Del Ta
la´s creek
Fig. 1.
Geographic location of the sampling sites. Argiudolls (black triangles) Natraqualfs (black circles)
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
10
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Site characterization and sampling
A total of 32 sites were sampled along the midd-
le and high sectors of the Tala´s creek basin, in the
Rolling Pampa, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
(
Fig. 1
). Further description of the Tala´s creek soils
and physiography is reported by Chagas (2007) and
INTA (1973). Sites were distinguished by their phy-
siography (high, middle, and low land), soil type,
predominant human activities (agriculture, livestock
breeding), and presence of either permanent or tran-
sitory stream, to assess the soil properties variability
in these sectors of the basin.
Twenty two samples consisting of three 0-50 mm
deep subsamples were collected in the agricultural-
livestock farm “Los Patricios” (central Tala´s basin),
where most of the regional environmental variability
can be found (INTA, 1973), and ten additional sam-
ples were collected in the surrounding area along the
Tala´s creek (
Fig. 1
).
Each sample was sieved through a 2-mm mesh
and analyzed for pH (1:2.5 solid:water) using a po-
tentiometer; organic carbon (OC; Walkley and Black
1934), electric conductivity (with a conductivity meter
in either saturation or double saturation extract as
appropriate), and moisture equivalent (ME; Mizuno
et al.
1978). Ions (Na
+
and K
+
)
in the soil solution
(aqueous extract 1/10) and in the interchange com
-
plex of the soil (extraction with ammonium acetate
1N) were measured by ±ame photometry, and Mg
2+
and Ca
2+
were measured by atomic absorption. The
percentage of Ca
2+
and Na
+
in the soil solution Ca
2+
-
sol and Na
+
-sol were calculated as the percentage of
those cations in relation to the total sum of soil bases.
The anions in the soil solution (HCO
3
, Cl
, SO
4
)
were measured by titrations with standard methodo-
logy (Klute 1986). The ionic strength (IS) of the
solution of each soil was calculated from these ions.
The cation exchange capacity (CEC) was measured
by extraction with potassium chloride (Klute 1986).
The speci²c surface area (SS; Lombardi
et al.
2001)
and the particle size distribution (Robinson’s pipette
method; Soil Conservation Service 1972) were also
measured. The mineralogy of the clay fraction in
oriented homoionic samples glycolated and heated
at 520 ºC was determined by X-ray diffractometry
with a Philips PANanalytical X’Pert PRO equipment
and a semi-quantitative method was used to obtain
the relative abundance of clay minerals (Holtzappfel
1985). Soil aggregates of the sieved fraction (<2 mm)
were described and photographed using a Wild MZ8
Leica photomicroscope.
Quantifcation oF microbial adsorption on solid
particles
Before any biological assay, soil samples were ste-
rilized with a minimum and uniform dose of ionizing
radiation equivalent to 25 kGy h
–1
(McLaughlin
et al.
1989) to prevent changes in organic matter and soil
aggregates. Bacteria for experiments,
Escherichia coli
ATCC 8739, were grown on Trypticase soy broth, at
35 ºC for 24 h, resuspended, centrifuged, and washed
twice with sterile saline solution (0.85 NaCl). The
pellet (corresponding to ~1×10
7
CFU mL
–1
; Colony
Forming Units), was equivalent to that used by nu-
merous researchers (Guber
et al.
2005, Oliver
et al.
2007). Measurements of adsorption of
E. coli
on the
solid soils fraction followed Ling
et al.
(2002) method,
with some modi²cations. A suspension of 6 ml of
E.
coli
solution (1×10
7
CFU mL
–1
) was added to 6 g of
sieved (<2 mm) soil in a 50 mL sterile conical tube.
The slurry was manually shaken for 1 min and then left
to rest for 5 min. The separation between bacteria and
soil was done by centrifugation, establishing a diame-
ter of 1 μm as the limit between them. The energy for
such separation was of 50 G for 6 minutes according
INRA (1986). This value was adjusted experimentally
for the speci²c conditions of the present work. The
purity of the separated fractions was corroborated
by optical microscopy (photomicroscope Wild MZ8
Leica). The supernatant of each sample was incubated
at 35 ºC for 24 h in VRB-Agar (Biokar Diagnostics)
for plate counting (APHA 1998). The determinations
were carried out in triplicate on the thirty two samples
analyzed. The proportion of bacteria adhered to the soil
(percentage of adsorption) was calculated as: Ads (%)
= (Nt – Ns) / Nt × 100, where Nt = total number of
bacteria added to the soil (CFU mL
–1
) and Ns = total
number of growing colonies from the supernatant
(CFU mL
–1
).
Statistical analysis
Principal component analysis (PCA) was carried
out to summarize the physical and chemical charac-
teristics of the soils and to evaluate the association
among the measured soil variables, including pH,
organic carbon (OC), exchangeable sodium percen
-
tage (ESP), moisture equivalent (ME), clay, sand,
cation exchange capacity (CEC), speci²c surface area
(SSA), ionic strength (IS), sodium and calcium per-
centage in soil solution (Na
+
-sol, Ca
2+
-sol). The PCA
was performed on the correlation matrix (for further
details see Balzani
et al.
2008). Two-way analysis
of variance (ANOVA) was perform to evaluate the
effects of site location (
SL
) (two levels: inside and
outside “Los Patricios”), soil type (
ST
) (two levels:
ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
11
Argiudoll or Natraqualf), and their interaction on the
scores of the principal component 1 (PCA1) or the
principal component 2 (PCA2) as dependent varia-
ble (Table 3). To study the infuence oF soil type and
site location on bacterial adsorption (%) the same
two-way ANOVA was performed. Linear regression
analyses with category variables (soil type: Argiudoll
or NatraqualF) were carried out to study the infuence
of soil properties on bacterial adsorption. PCA1,
PCA2, pH, OC, ESP, ME, clay, sand, CEC, SSA, IS,
Na
+
-sol and Ca
2+
-sol were evaluated as independent
variables each one in separate models, being bacterial
adsorption always the dependent variable. Differences
in the slopes and intercepts between soil types were
tested by means of ANOVA (Snedecor and Cochran
1980). Finally, multiple linear regression analysis was
carried out to select the best prediction model of the
bacterial adsorption. The criterion used to select the
variables was the minimization of the mean square of
the error (MSE), the maximization oF adjusted R
2
and
statistical signi±cance (
P
entrance and exit: 0.15). All
the statistical analyses were performed with Infostat/P
v1.1, 2002. ANOVA assumptions were met in all cases.
RESULTS
Physical and chemical properties of the soils
Clay mineralogy was quite similar for all surface
soils, consisting of 2:1 clays, mainly illites with a
TABLE I.
PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF THE SOILS EVALUATED; SOIL TYPE NATRAQUALF (Natr), ARGIU-
DOLL (Arg), ORGANIC CARBON (OC), CATIONIC EXCHANGE CAPACITY (CEC), ELECTRIC CONDUCTIVITY
(EC), EXCHANGEABLE SODIUM PERCENTAGE (ESP), IONIC STRENGTH (IS), PERCENTAGE OF Na+ AND Ca+2
IN SOIL SOLUTION (Na+ -sol / Ca2+ -sol), CLAY, SILT AND SAND PERCENTAGES, SPECIFIC SURFACE AREA (SS)
AND MOISTURE EQUIVALENT (ME).
Site location†
Soil
type
pH
OC
CEC
EC
ESP
IS
Na
+
-sol Ca
2+
-sol
Clay
(<2 μm)
Silt
(2 - 50 μm)
Sand
(> 50 μm)
SS
ME
Bacterial
Adsorption‡
(1-2,5)
(%)
cmol
c
/
kg
dS/m
(%)
(M)
(%)
(%)
(%)
g m
–2
(%)
(%)
Los Patricios_1
Natr
7.7
0.2
26.7
0.89
2.8
0.0063
54.8
28.2
22.0
48.0
30.0
211
19.0
52.5 (1.6)
Los Patricios_2
Natr
8.5
0.6
13.8
0.91
10.4
0.0059
42.5
5.8
24.0
57.5
18.5
107
18.3
25.2 (1.1)
Los Patricios_3
Natr
6.3
3.7
23.8
0.73
3.5
0.0067
35.4
5.9
39.0
53.0
8.0
262
26.6
64.9 (7.2)
Los Patricios_4
Natr
6.1
3.7
17.9
1.48
3.2
0.0096
17.4
25.4
30.0
61.0
9.0
149
25.1
49.4 (3.4)
Los Patricios_5
Natr
5.6
3.1
16.8
0.65
4.5
0.0046
11.2
18.7
32.0
59.5
8.5
146
25.3
57.6 (5.1)
Los Patricios_6
Natr
8.5
1.8
18.4
1.00
13.0
0.0104
65.3
11.9
25.5
56.5
18.0
170
23.8
35.4 (1.9)
Los Patricios_7
Natr
9.3
0.8
16.5
1.35
23.2
0.0134
66.0
17.4
28.5
55.5
16.0
181
22.7
38.1 (2.3)
Los Patricios_8
Natr
8.5
1.5
18.1
1.63
13.9
0.0099
53.4
21.9
34.0
52.0
14.0
146
19.2
52.7 (5.1)
Los Patricios_9
Natr
7.3
0.9
24.2
1.29
2.5
0.0097
33.8
28.2
43.0
45.0
12.0
314
21.5
65.4 (5.9)
Los Patricios_10
Natr
7.9
2.0
16.5
1.60
16.9
0.0116
38.7
25.2
29.0
56.5
14.5
132
17.8
30.5 (5.0)
Los Patricios_11
Natr
6.0
3.1
16.6
0.60
2.4
0.0036
28.3
6.3
35.5
56.5
8.0
153
22.4
49.5 (5.0)
Colonia Velaz_12
Natr
6.7
3.6
19.5
3.46
4.5
0.0204
15.5
12.1
23.0
59.0
18.0
136
25.4
53.4 (1.1)
Colonia Velaz_13
Natr
7.2
3.4
18.7
2.20
4.9
0.0126
47.7
17.6
28.0
57.0
15.0
191
25.2
55.2 (1.0)
Colonia Velaz_14
Natr
7.3
1.0
14.2
3.84
11.3
0.0243
51.6
7.9
24.5
58.5
17.0
163
18.3
34.5 (2.6)
Colonia Velaz_15
Natr
7.2
2.4
17.5
2.28
7.7
0.0140
25.5
24.0
31.0
56.0
13.0
183
19.5
48.3 (5.2)
Colonia Velaz_16
Natr
8.8
1.8
30
2.20
10.7
0.0142
29.2
26.6
36.0
57.0
7.0
201
29.7
71.9 (5.0)
Los Patricios_17
Arg
6.5
1.0
26
0.42
1.8
0.0027
45.1
21.7
51.0
44.0
5.0
271
22.9
68.9 (0.9)
Los Patricios_18
Arg
6.4
0.9
24.5
0.56
0.5
0.0036
4.7
6.2
52.5
39.0
8.5
264
23.6
70.7 (1.8)
Los Patricios_19
Arg
6.2
0.9
22.3
0.80
0.6
0.0045
28.0
28.0
43.5
44.5
12.0
224
22.0
63.5 (5.2)
Los Patricios_20
Arg
5.7
3.8
27.6
0.89
1.6
0.0056
30.6
44.2
44.0
52.5
3.5
224
26.5
63.7 (2.6)
Los Patricios_21
Arg
6.2
2.8
26.1
0.96
0.5
0.0045
6.3
19.8
37.5
57.0
5.5
236
24.5
58.8 (2.2)
Los Patricios_22
Arg
5.3
3.1
24.7
0.63
0.7
0.0040
31.2
39.0
38.5
59.5
2.0
200
25.5
70.4 (3.3)
Los Patricios_23
Arg
5.5
2.4
26.7
0.40
1.7
0.0026
41.2
39.8
44.0
53.0
3.0
194
25.9
73.0 (1.5)
Los Patricios_24
Arg
5.6
2.8
20.8
0.78
2.1
0.0056
10.1
25.1
38.0
54.0
8.0
186
24.3
46.9 (4.4)
Los Patricios_25
Arg
8.1
5.1
22.6
0.87
6.7
0.0072
38.3
27.3
33.0
45.5
21.5
206
19.6
60.6 (4.0)
Los Patricios_26
Arg
5.4
3.7
29.4
0.96
1.8
0.0070
10.7
33.1
40.0
58.0
2.0
223
29.3
73.3 (1.0)
Los Patricios_27
Arg
5.4
3.4
18.2
1.94
0.7
0.0072
8.1
28.8
31.0
59.0
10.0
182
21.0
54.5 (5.7)
La Esperanza_28
Arg
5.8
3.6
27.7
0.30
1.8
0.0030
45.9
23.9
42.5
48.5
9.0
287
26.7
68.0 (4.5)
La Esperanza_29
Arg
5.8
3.7
18.6
1.21
2.6
0.0074
25.6
38.2
29.0
57.0
14.0
150
24.7
42.4 (3.0)
La Esperanza_30
Arg
6.2
1.6
27.8
0.54
1.3
0.0052
10.4
22.0
49.0
45.0
6.0
326
25.9
66.0 (5.1)
Campo Rios_31
Arg
5.6
4.2
22.1
1.49
2.0
0.0076
20.1
40.0
36.2
59.5
4.3
193
27.4
69.5 (7.6)
Sta. Lucia_32
Arg
5.8
3.1
20.5
0.61
2.8
0.0042
9.3
17.7
34.0
61.0
5.0
194
19.8
62.6 (4.6)
† Numbers indicate geographic location in
Fig. 1
‡ Values between parentheses indicate standard errors
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
12
small proportion of interstratiFed illite-smectite
minerals, and traces of kaolinite. Semi quantitative
analysis of clay minerals did not Fnd any differences
between soils sites. On the contrary, a considerable
variability regarding other physical and chemical
properties of the soil surface horizons was found
(
Table I
). The content of OC varied between 0.2
and 5.1%, whereas the clay content ranged between
220 and 525 g kg
–1
; the group of natric soils evi-
denced a higher content of sand in comparison to
the Argiudolls. The pH varied between 5.3 and 9.3,
the CEC between 13.8 and 30.0 cmol
c
kg
–1
and the
ESP between 0.5 and 23.2 %. The other measured
soil properties also showed considerable differences
among the studied sites (
Table I
).
Regarding the morphology and surface charac-
teristics of soil aggregates <2 mm, a considerable
heterogeneity was also observed (
Fig. 2
). The
samples evidence different morphology and color
distributions at their surface, indicating differen-
ces in the composition and arrangement of their
inorganic and organic fractions. This color hetero-
geneity is found predominantly in soil aggregates
from the livestock sites (
Fig. 2a
and
b
left) while
color becomes more homogenous in aggregates
from agricultural Felds (
Fig. 2b
right). The aggre-
gates from the former situations also show more
spherical shapes with more rounded faces, as for
example in
fgure 2a
. Inversely aggregates from
agricultural sites are predominantly very Fne an
-
gular and subangular blocks (
Fig. 2c
). Plant debris
under decomposition and a higher macroporosity of
peds was also observed in agricultural soils (
Fig.
2c
). Because of the proximity to water courses, and
coincidently with their higher sand content, natric
soils also show coarser particles equivalent in size
to the small peds, and speciFc biological features
as snails also appear (
Fig. 2a
).
In agreement with the important soil heteroge-
neity mentioned, the values of bacterial adsorption
found in this work oscillated between 25.3 and
73.3 %
(
Table I
).
The principal components analyses of chemical
and physical parameters show that the first two
components were responsible for 62 % of the total
variability. The Frst component (PCA1) explained
45 % of the variability due mainly to high variance
of clay content, ESP, sand content, and, to a lesser
extent, pH (
Table II
), whereas the second component
(PCA2), explained 16% of the variability and OC,
SSA and the Na
+
-sol attained the highest variance
in this component.
Figure 3
shows an important
grouping of soil properties such as ESP, pH and Na
+
-sol, indicating environments typical of sodic and sa-
line soils.
Figure 3
also shows the clustering of other
soils properties such as clay content, CEC, SSA, and
variables associated with the presence of Fne particles.
This clustering is represented by the sites evaluated on
Argiudolls. Moreover, other expected relations were
observed such as the diametrically opposite position
occupied by sand content and ME on one hand and
the relation between Ca
2+
-sol with ESP on the other.
Natraqualf soils showed on average lower PCA1
scores than Argiudolls, whereas no differences were
a
2 mm
bc
2 mm
1 mm
Fig. 2.
Morphology of the aggregates <2 mm. Photograph a and b (left) correspond to samples from the cattle-breeding
soils Los Patricios 1 and Los Patricios 2, respectively. Photograph b (right) and c correspond to samples from
agricultural soils (Los Patricios 15 and 14 respectively)
TABLE II.
PCA LOADING VALUES. THE SIGNIFICANCE
CORRESPONDS TO PEARSON’S CORRELA-
TION ANALYSES BETWEEN THE PRINCIPAL
COMPONENTS AND EACH VARIABLE.
Variables
PC1
PC2
pH
–0.33***
–0.31***
OC
0.16*
0.51***
CEC
0.31***
–0.23
EC
–0.27***
0.34**
ESP
–0.35***
–0.14
IS
–0.31***
0.22
Na
+
-sol
–0.25***
–0.35***
Ca
2+
-sol
0.20**
0.12
Clay
0.35***
–0.28*
Sand
–0.33***
–0.13
SS
0.27***
–0.38***
ME
0.27***
–0.17
*
P
<0.05
**
P
<0.01
***
P
<0.001
ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
13
found in PCA2 scores (
Table III
,
Fig. 3
). Consis-
tently, Natraqualf soils showed higher pH, ESP and
Na
+
-sol values and lower Ca
2+
-sol values than Ar-
giudoll soils (
Fig. 3
). On the other hand, differences
between site locations in soil properties were evident
in the scores of the PCA2, whereas no differences
were observed for PCA1 scores (
Table III
). In addi-
tion, no interaction between soil type and site location
was found on PCA1 or PCA2 scores.
Bacterial adsorption was signifcantly associated
with the soil type, the highest values of bacterial
adsorption being related to Argiudolls and the lowest
ones to Natraqualfs (
Fig. 4
,
Table III
).
Association between bacterial adsorption and soil
properties
Bacterial adsorption increased consistently with
higher PCA1 scores (R
2
= 0.67;
P
< 0.0001;
Fig. 4
).
When this regression was analyzed by means of cate-
gorical variables (Argiudoll and Natraqualf), neither
the intercept nor the slope showed effects of these
soil types
or
SL
(
P
>0.05). Soil properties analyzed
individually presented no signifcant diFFerences due
to the
ST
or
SL
(P<0.05). These properties explained
up to 67 % oF the variation oF the bacterial adsorption.
The highest values oF determination coeFfcient were
those of the parameters with a positive tendency in
relation with the bacterial adsorption, such as CEC
(R
2
= 0.67), clay content (R
2
= 0.55) and SSA (R
2
=
0.45) (
Fig. 5
). In contrast, ESP (R
2
=0.42), sand con-
tent (R
2
= 0.38) and pH (R
2
= 0.25) were the variables
6.00
3.00
OC
EC
Argiudoll
Natraqualf
IS
ESP
pH
SS
Clay
CEC
ME
Na
+
–sol
Ca
2+
–sol
Sand
0.00
–3.00
–6.00
–6.00
–3.00
0.00
PCA 1
(Clay: 0.35, ESP: –0.35, Sand: –0.33, pH: –0.33)
PCA 2
(OC: –0.51, SS: –0.38, Na –sol: –0.35)
3.00
6.00
Fig. 3.
Scores on the frst (PCA1) and second axes (PCA2) oF the principal component analysis.
The length of the vectors represents the magnitude of the representation of each variable
for each component and the angles between the variables indicate the correlation between
them. Angles of 90º between two variables indicate that they are not correlated. Below
both axes principal autovectors are presented in parenthesis
TABLE III.
ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE FOR THE EFFECTS
OF SOIL TYPE AND SITE LOCATION ON THE
SCORES OF THE FIRST (PCA1) AND SECOND
(PCA2) AXES OF THE PRINCIPAL COMPO-
NENT ANALYSIS, AND THE PERCENTAGE
OF BACTERIAL ADSORPTION. VALUES ARE
F
STATISTICS FOR EACH MODEL TERM
PCA1
PCA2
Bacterial
adsorption
(%)
Soil type
37.7***
0.01
12.31**
Site location
1.05
6.36*
0.06
Soil type × site location
0.07
0.3
0.95
*P<0.05
**P<0.01
***P<0.001
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
14
that best explained the negative tendency to the
adsorption (
Fig. 5
). However, other important soil
properties in PCA2 presented differences in the be-
havior in the bacterial adsorption due to the soil type,
although such properties did not present important
determination coefFcients or signiFcant differen
-
ces.
Figure 6a
shows that OC presented a slightly
negative behavior in Argiudolls and a positive one
in Natraqualfs.
Figure 6b
shows that the Ca
2+
-sol
did not present a marked tendency in Argiudolls but
presented a positive tendency in Natraqualfs. In turn,
IS presented an R
2
of 0.2 (P<0.05), whereas EC and
Na
+
-sol presented an R
2
of 0.14 (P<0.05) and 0.15
(P<0.05) respectively, evidencing different slopes
between soils (P<0.05) with negative tendencies.
Prediction of soil bacterial adsorption
The soil properties included in the bacterial
adsorption model (minimum square error) were:
clay content, OC, CEC, EC and IS, and the model
presented a R
2
of 0.79 (R
2
adjust
: 0.77). The same
soil properties and determination coefFcient were
found when maximizing the R
2
methodology was
performed. Then stepwise regression was carried
out to evaluate the behavior of the model evaluated
by the selection of signiFcant properties (P entran
-
ce and exit= 0.15). The model adjusted with this
methodology was the following:
y = 1.73 CEC –0.05
sand(50–250 μm ) - 0.54 ESP
, which also presented a
determination coefFcient of 0.79 with an adjusted R
2
of 0.77. This simple model allowed us to explain the
high percentage of variability of bacterial adsorption
present in the studied area.
DISCUSSION
Soils characterization
The wide ranges of values of the physical and
chemical properties present in the Tala´s creek basin
(
Table I
) provide an adequate frame to study the soil
variability and its in±uence on bacterial adsorption.
The measured value even exceeds the application
ranges of the prediction formulae of bacterial adsorp-
tion such as that proposed by Ling
et al.
(2002). It
is to be mentioned that all of the topsoils evaluated
present evidences of erosion and redeposition sharing
similarities to sediments on which bacteria would
be attached. In this sense, it is important to point
out the morphological variability evidenced by the
aggregates <2 mm which re±ects the compositional
diversity of the soil materials studied. The clay con-
tent, the interaction with other organic compounds,
the variations in pH, and the presence of cations are
important factors in the determination of the degree
of bacterial adsorption. Field clays are not dispersed
but rather form aggregates, domains, cutans and can
be complexed in part with organic matter or oxides
(Stotzky 1985). ²or example, bacterial adsorption
is highly increased by the presence of oxide cover
layers in the quartz grains relative to that in the pure
grains (Mills
et al.
1994). Also, Hoek and Agarwal
(2006) found that the surface roughness causes an
important modiFcation in the repulsive or attractive
forces. Then, surface heterogeneity creates a grea-
ter distance between the particle and the substrate,
causing a reduction in the interaction energy (Jac-
obs
et al.
2007). Consequently, the wide ranges of
Argiudoll “Los Patricios”
Natraqualf “Los Patricios”
Natraqualf
75.7
62.5
49.3
36.1
22.8
–5.47
–3.21
–0.9
61
.30
y = 0.144 ×
– 8.0941
R
2
= 0.669
P<0.001
3.55
Bacterial adsoption (%)
Argiudoll
PCA 1
(Clay: 0.35, ESP: –0.35, Sand: –0.33, pH: –0.33)
Fig. 4.
Linear regression of bacterial adsorption on the scores of the Frst axis from
the principal component analysis (PCA1). Autovectors are in parenthesis
ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
15
bacterial adsorption values measured in the present
work should be understood as a conjunction of the
soil complexity.
Association between bacterial adsorption and soil
properties
Although the bacterial adsorption (25.3 -73.3 %,
Table I
) obtained presented a wide range, they were
relatively low compared with Ling
et al.
(2002) that
found bacterial adsorption values of up to 99 % in
silty soils, whereas Oliver
et al.
(2007) found 35%
of association in a clay loam soil. Furthermore,
Characklis
et al.
(2005) found 20 to 35 % of
E. coli
associated with the sedimentable aggregates measu-
red by means of centrifugation techniques.
When analyzing the relationship between PCA1
and bacterial adsorption (
Fig. 3
), the soil type did
not present any effect, indicating that the general
behavior of the environment expressed by PCA1 in
relation with the bacterial adsorption can be represen-
ted by means of only one equation with an important
degree of adjustment (R
2
=0.67), which includes the
properties of the two dominant soils (Argiudoll and
Natraqualf). By means of linear regressions, such
properties were the ones that best described the
behavior of bacterial adsorption. These are cited as
properties that can affect bacterial adsorption either
positively or negatively.
Positive tendencies
Within this group, clay content is usually cited as
the main factor in the regulation of adsorption and Kd
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
100
Bacterial adsorption (%)
150
200
250
300
Clay (g/kg)
ESP (%)
CEC (Cmol/kg)
Sand (g/kg)
SS(m
2
/g)
pH
350
450
R
2
= 0.5496 P<0.0001
y = 0.1209× + 13.567
R
2
= 0.6718 P<0.0001
y = 2.3402× + 5.4081
R
2
= 0.4527 P<0.0001
y = 0.1688× + 22.433
R
2
= 0.2549 P<0.003
y = –5.7391× + 94.672
R
2
= 0.3802 P=0.002
y = –0.1285× + 70.106
R
2
= 0.4164 P<0.0001
y = –1.5529× + 64.207
550
400
500
600
0
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
50
01
00
15
02
00
25
03
00
35
04
00
0
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
50
150
100
250
200
300
350
0
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
46
58
79
10
0
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
10
52
0
15
25
30
0
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
10
15
20
25
30
35
0
Fig. 5.
Regression of the variables with positive tendency, clay content (%), CEC (Cmol Kg
–1
) and speciFc surface area (g m
–2
) –left
panel– and those with negative tendency, ESP (%), sand content (%) and pH –right panel–. Squares correspond to Argiudolls,
whereas triangles correspond to Natraqualfs. Empty symbols show the soils sampled within “Los Patricios”, whereas Flled
symbols show samples collected outside “Los Patricios”
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
16
(Hagedorn
et al.
1978, Bengtsson 1989). For example,
Weaver et al. (1978) studied this variable in a water-
soil solution and observed that the adsorption of
E. coli
varied between 7 % in loamy sandy soils (10 % clay) to
90 % and more in clayey soils. Using centrifugation te
-
chniques, Ling
et al.
(2002) found values of 24.5 % and
99.2 of adsorption of
E. coli
, for soils with 14 % and
35 % clay content respectively. These ±ndings match
the relations found in this work, although samples with
the higher clay contents (51 and 52 %) did not reach
adsorption values as high as mentioned above. For
the soils evaluated, the adjustment of the regression
model for such relation (
Fig. 5
) reached a determina-
tion coef±cient of 0.55. This value, although not so
high in relation with the other properties evaluated,
did not evidence all the expected predictive potential
of the clay content as an estimator of adsorption. A
possible explanation of this fact is the high degree of
aggregation and different organic content presented
by the samples analyzed (
Fig. 2
). Also, in a previous
work with the same soils (Kraemer
et al.
2011), clay
content together with <3 µm particles showed better
correlations con±rming also the importance of very
±ne silt in the adsorption process.
As regards the speci±c surface area, a property
closely related to clays, a high degree of adjustment
in relation with bacterial adsorption was expected.
However, this adjustment was very similar to that
of clay content. Since most samples were similar in
their clay mineralogy, showing equivalent propor-
tions of different clay minerals (illite, interstrati±ed
I-S and kaolinite), this variable did not improve the
explanation of bacterial adsorption.
On the other hand, the CEC, a property closely rela-
ted to the content and type of clays and organic matter,
allowed the adjustment of the regression model with
the maximum determination coef±cient of the assay,
which re²ects the importance of electrostatic balan
-
ces in reversal adsorption processes. In studies with
reoviruses, Lipson and Stozky (1983) also concluded
that the CEC was one of the properties involved in the
adsorption. In 2:1 clay minerals, 80% of the negati
-
ve charge depends on the isomorphic substitutions,
presumably being this the reason why CEC was the
variable that best explained the behavior of bacterial
adsorption in the studied soils. Furthermore, not only
clays size particles could present CEC, Morrás (1995)
found important values of this parameter in ±ne silts,
fraction size dominant in all samples studied.
Surface interactions between biological entities
and clays are usually greater when the valence and
concentration of the exchangeable cations is higher.
According to the DVLO theory (Derjaguin and Lan-
dau 1941, Verwey and Overbeek 1948), this results,
Fig. 6.
Linear regression of bacterial adsorption on organic carbon (a) or
Ca
2+
-sol (b) for different soil types. Argiudolls (white squares);
Natraqualfs (white triangles)
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Bacterial adsorption (%)
123456
7
OC (%)
R
2
= 0.0526 P>0.05
y = –1.6609× + 68.133
R
2
= 0.0007 P>0.05
y = –0.0227× + 63.994
R
2
= 0.1281 P>0.05
y = 3.9182× + 40.864
R
2
= 0.1241 P>0.05
y = 0.5581× + 39.217
0
80
Argiudoll
Natraqualf
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
05
10
20
15
30
25
35
40
45
50
55
60
Ca
2+
–sol (%)
0
ADSORPTION OF
Escherichia coli
IN MOLLISOLS AND ALFISOLS OF ARGENTINA
17
in part, from the reduction of the extension of the
double diffuse layer of clays, which allows the latter
and the biological entities to approach each other. The
tendency found with the Ca
2+
-sol seems to support
the role of cations in the importance of the CEC in the
increase in bacterial adsorption, mainly in Natraqualfs,
where the concentration of this cation is low (
Fig. 6b
).
This would be due to the double diffuse layer, as ex
-
plained before, which would also involve the partial or
total Focculation of clays and aggregates, altering the
electrostatic charges balance. Besides, bivalent cations
such as Ca
2+
reduce the expansibility and dispersibility
of 2:1 clays. Thus, clay Focculation seems to indirectly
decrease the expression of negative charges in 2:1
clays increasing the effect of bacterial adsorption on
soils. In the same sense, with adsorption of inorganic
cations (cationic polyelectrolites), the surface charges
would be neutralized, and, if the adsorption continues,
the net charge turns positive. Marshall (1980) reported
that the appearance of this type of Focculation may be
a mechanism of approach of the bacterial cells to the
soil particles so that Van der Waals forces can then act.
Negative tendencies
According to the above-mentioned mechanisms,
the high determination coef±cient in the regression
adjustment between the ESP and bacterial adsorption
(
Fig. 5
) seems to be reFecting the environment of
aggregate dispersal generated when the expression
of negative charges increases. This fact would affect
the increase in the repulsion of bacteria. Similarly, the
negative tendency found with the Na
+
-sol con±rms
this phenomenon.
As regards pH, Jiang
et al.
(2007) found a de-
crease in the adsorption of
Pseudomonas putida
in
minerals when the pH increased from 3 to 10. Scholl
and Harvey (1992) found that a large number of
colonies of
Arthrobacter
sp. were associated with
quartz at pH 5.0, but that the number of colonies
decreased at pH 7.5. In summary, there seems to be
a close relationship between bacterial adsorption
and the pH of the medium con±rming the role of
electrostatic forces in the bacterial adsorption to
minerals. Higher pH generates an increase on the
electronegativity of soil colloids and also results in
the increase in the electronegativity of the surfaces
of the bacterial membranes, a phenomenon that
would potentiate the repulsion between bacteria
and mineral surfaces. It can be observed that pH,
which in the PCA discriminated the variability of
the soils evaluated to a large extent, did not have
the same preponderance as an individual predictive
variable of bacterial adsorption. Although this re-
lation showed a high signi±cance (P<0.003), its R
2
was lower than 0.25. This could be due, in part, to
the preponderance of 2:1 minerals in the samples
analyzed, since their negative charge, responsible
for the bacterial adsorption is barely dependent
on pH. In this sense, the variation of the negative
charges dependent on pH would be mainly due to
the soil organic matter and, in a very low proportion,
to kaolinite. The organic matter is a component that
can affect the adsorption phenomenon since it mo-
di±es the surface of inorganic fractions, modifying
its properties. Aislabie
et al.
(2001) and Marshall
(1971) reported that organic matter is one of the
main soil components affecting bacterial adsorption.
However, in the present work, divergent relations
according to the soil type were found (
Fig. 6a
).
Organic matter can either increase or decrease
bacterial adsorption depending on its quality, solu-
bility and size of the fraction affected. Gray
et al.
(1968) and Guber
et al.
(2005) found that organic
carbon had a greater importance in soils with san-
dy texture. If the behavior of bacterial adsorption
is analyzed relating OC to soil texture, a positive
trend is evidenced between the organic fraction and
bacteria adsorption in the sites with a larger content
of sands (Natraqualfs), and, in contrast, a negative
trend is evidenced in the sites with lower content
of sands (Argiudolls) (data not shown). In this last
case, the organic compounds in the soil may affect
the bacterial association to the minerals.
Regarding ionic strength (IS), numerous authors
have recognized that an increase in the concentra-
tion of electrolytes increases the bacterial associa-
tion to solids (Marshall 1980, Sharma
et al.
1985,
Fontes
et al.
1991, Mills
et al.
1994). In this sense,
Huub et al. (1995) used eight different bacterial
strains in several liquid media with ionic strengths
that varied between 0.0001 and 1 M, whereas in
another study of adsorption in columns, Stevik
et al.
(1999) applied distilled water as medium and two
solutions of 0.00725 and 0.097 M. In both works,
the bacterial adsorption was increased with higher
ionic strengths. Here, negative tendencies of this
property in relation with adsorption were found.
However, it should be considered that this variable
takes Na
+
into account, a cation present in numerous
samples that increased ionic strength but dispersed
at the same time soil aggregates.
Agronomic implications; erosion and contami-
nation
The quantity and quality of the sediments genera-
ted in a watershed, and therefore their contaminating
F. Behrends Kraemer
et al.
18
power, depend on several factors such as the magni-
tude and type of the erosive process, the geomorpho-
logy, and the type and management and of soils. Wa-
tersheds that present slopes with moderate length and
scarce gradient, such as the one of the present study,
suffer processes of erosion mainly of laminar type.
This is a common feature in the Rolling Pampa. Such
process is characterized by the generation of “Fne”
sediments enriched in organic matter and clays with
considerable capacity of cation exchange. Therefore,
the sediments generated by laminar erosion in the
Rolling Pampa would have a high capacity to adsorb
and transport diverse chemical and/or contaminants
such as pesticides as well as bacteria and viruses
associated with human activity (Chagas 2007). It
is because of this, that is important to highlight that
CEC and clay content were the properties that best
explained the bacterial adsorption both in Argiudolls
and in Natraqualfs.
Prediction of the bacterial adsorption
The prediction model of bacterial adsorption
based on multiple regressions was consistent with
the results of the principal components analysis and
with the individual soil parameters analyses. Sand
and clay content, ESP and CEC were important
variables in the principal component analysis and in
the multiple regressions, allowing to predict bacte-
rial adsorption in both types of soils (Argiudolls and
Natraqualfs). All of the parameters selected are re-
latively easy to measure, integrate some of relevant
physical and chemical characteristics of soils, and
are relatively stable along time. To validate these
soils parameters in order to elaborate a bacterial
adsorption prediction model other bacterial strains
should be used. Regarding clay content, Kraemer
et al. (
2011) using a laboratory (same strain of this
work) and a wild strain found similar correlations
with clay vs. bacterial adsorption that the ones
measured by Ling
et al.
2002. While the wild strain
presented almost a perfect correlation, the labora-
tory strain showed lower adsorption values but the
same behavior along clay contents.
CONCLUSIONS
The soils of the Tala´s creek basin presented a
wide range of bacterial adsorption capacity (25%
to 73.3%), which allowed discriminating between
different environments: the bacterial adsorption
capacity of Argiudolls was signiFcantly higher than
that of Natraqualfs.
Principal components analysis demonstrated that
the main properties that explained the variation of
adsorption in both soil types are the same, although
some properties such as organic carbon or the Ca
2+
-sol presented different behaviors according to
the soil type. In the present study, the importance
of properties such as texture, CEC and ESP were
corroborated as tools to differentiate environments
of bacterial adsorptions, even in very heteroge-
neous environments such as the one evaluated. In
that sense, the following equation:
y=1.73
×
CEC
– 0.05
×
sand(50–250
μm
)[g kg
–1
]–0.54
×
ESP
(
R
2
ad-
just=0.77
) is proposed. The results obtained would
be useful for the development of bacterial transport
models from standard soil data in environments
characterized by Fne materials of illitic mineralogy.
In order to conFrm the predictive value of these pro
-
perties it would be useful to evaluate such variables in
environments with different textures and mineralogy
since sandy soils did not integrate the data set and
the mineralogy was relatively homogeneous in the
surface horizons of the soils studied.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work was supported by the Project UBA
-
CYT. 01/W709. We thank Dr. Alfonso Buján and Dr.
Eva Pawlac from the CONEA (Comisión Nacional
de Energía Atómica) for their contribution in the
sterilization of soil samples.
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