Water retention curves of biofilm-affected soils using xanthan as an analogue

Ravid Rosenzweig, Uri Shavit, Alex Furman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study investigated the effect of biofilms and, in particular, that of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on the hydraulic properties of porous media under unsaturated conditions. The quantitative understanding of the way biological activity alters hydraulic properties is a major key in understanding and engineering relevant systems such as soil aquifer treatment, bioremediation, and wastewater irrigation. Using an EPS analog (xanthan) we explored the effect of EPS on the water retention function of two sandy soils. The result was a significant increase in the water content at any given matric head that could reach 270% of its value within pure soil. For most of the water content range, we successfully modeled the effect of the EPS as a linear superposition of the original pure soil and the xanthan retention curves. Finally, we examined two mechanisms that can attribute to modification of the water retention curve: the EPS holding capacity and alteration of the soils' pore-size distribution; in our case, it appears that the first mechanism was dominant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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