Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science - (Ph.D.)


Chemical Engineering, Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Gordon Lewandowski

Second Advisor

David Kafkewitz

Third Advisor

Piero M. Armenante

Fourth Advisor

Edward Michael Bonder

Fifth Advisor

Dittmar Hahn

Sixth Advisor

Richard B. Trattner


Most studies on bacterial growth kinetics have been dependent on theoretical modeling with general biomass measurements using either dry weight or optical density (OD), without distinguishing live from dead bacteria or debris. As a result, there remains considerable uncertainty in reliably predicting rates of biodegradation for design of treatment processes for environmental pollutants.

This research focused on measurement of bacterial growth rates and activities in suspended cultures and biofilms using Pseudomonas putida (ATCC 17484) for biodegradation of naphthalene. As expected, the rates of biodegradation differed between suspended and immobilized cultures. A comparison was made of the impact of three biomass measures: optical density, total cell protein, and living cell number on the calculated rate of naphthalene disappearance. Living cell number was determined by a fluorescent staining technique and use of epifluorescence microscopy. More than 90% of total cells remained viable over the course of each experiment (35 to 54 hours).

All three techniques experienced difficulties reconciling calculated values of biomass growth and naphthalene disappearance. This was considered to be a consequence of the production of intermediate products detected in the chromatograms, and possibly adsorption and subsequent release of naphthalene, which resulted in a lag time between the isappearance of naphthalene and the appearance of biomass. Inclusion of a lag time in the integrated Monod expression improved the agreement between experimental and calculated values of biomass and naphthalene concentrations. However, further improvements will require more detailed kinetics of the actual biochemical pathway.



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