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Use of NMR Microscopy to examine biofilm structure in porous media under conditions of fluid flow

EMSL Project ID


We propose to continue our investigation of the use of NMR microscopy for resolving the sub-pore-scale structure of biofilms porous media. In the new proposed, work, we will continue to improve the imaging techniques required to use NMR on microbial biomass distributed within a porous network. Because microorganisms must have inputs of nutrients and electron acceptors to survive, we propose to extend the imaging to porous systems with convective transport through the porous medium containing the biomass. The research proposed here has the potential to illustrate the potential for NMR to be applied to fundamental studies of microbial growth in porous media systems. Such techniques would be valuable in other associated research conducted at the lab, including the currently-funded Microbial Cell Project (Office of Science) and also to Genomes to Life (Office of Science). For this work, NMR microscopy will be used to develop a 3-dimensional map of the distribution of microbial mass in the pore space of a porous medium. Only a single media type will be imaged under static hydrodynamic conditions. A 0.3 mm grain diameter material will be prepared under conditions where a biofilm (Shewanella spp.) has been grown to fill part of the void space. through the media. A cylindrical volume of ~7 mm diameter x 8 mm long will be imaged (using a diffusion-weighted NMR method [Potter et al., 1996] or relaxation method [Hoskins et al., 1999]) at a 30 m resolution to determine the distribution of the distributions of attached biomass in the system. A constant fluid flux will be maintained through the use of a syringe pump that delivers fluid to the micro-column within the imaging probe. Fluid-phase velocities will be measured by spin echo NMR methods, or other suitable methods as recommended by the EMSL NMR collaborators.

Project Details

Project type
Capability Research
Start Date
End Date


Principal Investigator

Brian Wood
Oregon State University

Team Members

Paul Majors
Washington State University

Kevin Minard
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Related Publications

Liu C, JM Zachara, W Yantasee, PD Majors, and JP McKinley. 2006. "Microscopic Reactive Diffusion of Uranium in the Contaminated Sediments at Hanford, United States." Water Resources Research 42(W12420):1-15, doi:10.1029/2006WR005031.
Wood BD, F Golfier, PD Majors, M Quintard, and S Whitaker. 2004. "Biofilms in Porous Media: Upscaling Conservation Equations and Measurement of Microbial Distributions via NMR." Biofilms 2004: Structure and Activity of Biofilms Conference, Las Vegas, NV.