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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2017-59
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
16 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).
Quantifying biostabilisation effects of biofilm-secreted and synthetic extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on sandy substrate
Wietse I. van de Lageweg1,a, Stuart J. McLelland1, and Daniel R. Parsons1 1Geography and Geology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Kingston - Upon - Hull, HU6 7RX, UK
anow at: Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Abstract. Microbial assemblages ('biofilms') preferentially develop at water-sediment interfaces and are known to have a considerable influence on sediment stability and erodibility. There is potential for significant impacts on sediment transport and morphodynamics and, hence, on the longer-term evolution of coastal and fluvial environments. However, the biostabilisation effects remain poorly understood and quantified due to the inherent complexity of biofilms and the large spatial and temporal (i.e. seasonality) variations involved. Here, we use controlled laboratory tests to systematically quantify the effects of natural biofilm colonisation as well as synthetic extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on sediment stability. Synthetic EPS may be useful to simulate biofilm mediated biostabilisation, and potentially provide a method of speeding up time scales of physical modelling experiments investigating biostabilisation effects. We find a mean biostabilisation due to natural biofilm colonisation and development of almost four times that of the uncolonised sand. The presented cumulative probability distribution of measured critical erosion thresholds reflects the large spatial and temporal variations generally seen in natural biostabilised environments. For identical sand, engineered sediment stability from the addition of synthetic EPS compares well across the measured range and behaves in a linear and predictable fashion. Yet, the effectiveness of synthetic EPS to stabilise sediment is sensitive to the preparation procedure, time after application and environmental conditions such as salinity, pH and temperature. These findings are expected to improve bio-physical experimental models in fluvial and coastal environments and provide much-needed quantification of biostabilisation to improve predictions of sediment dynamics in aquatic ecosystems.

Citation: van de Lageweg, W. I., McLelland, S. J., and Parsons, D. R.: Quantifying biostabilisation effects of biofilm-secreted and synthetic extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on sandy substrate, Earth Surf. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2017-59, in review, 2017.
Wietse I. van de Lageweg et al.
Wietse I. van de Lageweg et al.
Wietse I. van de Lageweg et al.

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Short summary
Sticky sediments are an important component of many rivers and coasts. Stickiness depends on many factors including the presence of micro-organisms, also known as biofilms. We performed a laboratory study to better understand the role of biofilms in controlling sediment transport and dynamics. We find that sand with biofilms requires significantly higher flow velocities to be mobilized compared to uncolonised sand. This will help improve predictions of sediment in response to currents and waves.
Sticky sediments are an important component of many rivers and coasts. Stickiness depends on...
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