A review on sediment bioflocculation: Dynamics, influencing factors and modeling

Haojie Lai, Hongwei Fang, Lei Huang, Guojian He, Danny Reible

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Sediment in a water column provides excellent substratum for microorganism colonization, and biological processes would alter the physical and chemical of sediment, resulting in substantial changes in sediment dynamics. The flocculation of sediment with biological processes are defined as sediment bioflocculation, which has been ubiquitously observed across aquatic ecosystems, activated sludge plants and bioflocculant applications, as a result of various processes involving particle aggregation and breakage under the complex effects of microorganisms and their metabolic products (e.g., extracellular polymeric substances EPS). EPS are complex high-molecular-weight mixtures of polymers, which are the primary components that hold microbial aggregates together by acting as a biological glue. Several mechanistic aggregation theories such as the alginate theory, adsorption bridging theory, divalent cation bridging theory, and Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory, and a number of influencing factors (e.g., sediment properties, microbial activity, EPS quantities and components, and external environment conditions) have been proposed to elucidate the role of microorganisms and EPS in sediment aggregation, promoting the investigation of the sediment bioflocculation evolution and kinetics models. However, due to the complex interrelationships of multiple physical, chemical, and biological processes and the incomprehensive knowledge of microorganisms and EPS, considerable research should be further conducted to fully understand their precise roles in the sediment bioflocculation process. In this study, a review of dynamic characterizations, mechanism, influencing factors and models of sediment bioflocculation are given to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of sediment bioflocculation dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1184-1200
Number of pages17
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 15 2018


  • Aggregation theories
  • Bioflocculation modeling
  • Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)
  • Influencing factors
  • Sediment bioflocculation dynamics


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