Complex Dielectric Properties of Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria Suspensions

Chi Zhang, Lee Slater, Camelia Prodan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) can potentially enhance the remediation of heavy metals in the subsurface. Previous geophysical research has demonstrated the sensitivity of electrical measurements to SRB-mediated mineral transformation in porous media. However, the inherent dielectric properties of SRB and their direct contribution to the electrical properties of porous media are poorly understood. We studied the complex dielectric properties of SRB (Desulfovibrio vulgaris) suspensions at different concentrations and at different growth stages using a two-electrode dielectric spectroscopy measurement over the frequency range of 20 Hz to 1 MHz. Our results show higher dielectric responses (relative dielectric permittivity, real and imaginary conductivity) occurred with higher bacteria concentration at frequencies <10 kHz. Additionally, permittivity and conductivity both decreased as cells aged from mid-log phase to late stationary phase. Our results suggest that dielectric spectroscopy measurements can be used to noninvasively monitor biomass and various growth stages of SRB. Our work advances the interpretation of electrical signals associated with SRB observed in the subsurface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-496
Number of pages7
JournalGeomicrobiology Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • biogeophysics
  • dielectric properties
  • dielectric spectroscopy
  • monitoring bioremediation
  • sulfate-reducing bacteria


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