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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 738, 2020, 139778

Hydrodynamic effect on biofouling of milli-labyrinth channel and bacterial communities in drip irrigation systems fed with reclaimed wastewater

Kévin Lequettea,b, NassimAit-Mouhebb, Nathalie Wérya

INRAE, University of Montpellier, LBE, 102, Avenue des Etangs, 11100 Narbonne, France.


The clogging of drippers due to the development of biofilms reduces the benefits and is an obstacle to the implementation of drip irrigation technology in a reclaimed water context. The narrow section and labyrinth geometry of the dripper channel results the development of a heterogeneous flow behaviours with the vortex zones which it enhance the fouling mechanisms. The objective of this study was to analyse the influence of the three dripper types, defined by their geometric and hydraulic parameters, fed with reclaimed wastewater, on the biofouling kinetics and the bacterial communities. Using optical coherence tomography, we demonstrated that the inlet of the drippers (mainly the first baffle) and vortex zones are the most sensitive area for biofouling. Drippers with the lowest Reynolds number and average cross-section velocity v (1 l·h-1) were the most sensible to biofouling, even if detachment events seemed more frequent in this dripper type. Therefore, dripper flow path with larger v should be consider to improve the anti-clogging performance. In addition, the dripper type and the geometry of the flow path influenced the structure of the bacterial communities from dripper biofilms. Relative abundancy of filamentous bacteria belonging to Chloroflexi phylum was higher in 1 l·h-1 drippers, which presented a higher level of biofouling. However, further research on the role of this phylum in dripper biofouling is required.

Keywords: Drip irrigation, Biofilm, Flow behaviours, Optical coherence tomography, High-throughput DNA sequencing.

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