Produced water exposure alters bacterial response to biocides.

Research paper by Amit A Vikram, Daniel D Lipus, Kyle K Bibby

Indexed on: 04 Oct '14Published on: 04 Oct '14Published in: Environmental Science & Technology


Microbial activity during the holding and reuse of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations, termed produced water, may lead to issues with corrosion, sulfide release, and fouling. Biocides are applied to control biological activity, often with limited efficacy, which is typically attributed to chemical interactions with the produced water. However, it is unknown whether there is a biologically driven mechanism to biocide tolerance in produced water. Here, we demonstrate that produced water exposure results in an enhanced tolerance against the typically used biocide glutaraldehyde and increased susceptibility to the oxidative biocide hypochlorite in a native and a model bacteria and that this altered resistance is due to the salinity of the produced water. In addition, we elucidate the genetic response of the model organism Pseudomonas fluorescens to produced water exposure to provide a mechanistic interpretation of the altered biocide resistance. The RNA-seq data demonstrated the induction of genes involved in osmotic stress, energy production and conversion, membrane integrity, and protein transport following produced water exposure, which facilitates bacterial survival and alters biocide tolerance. Efforts to fundamentally understand biocide resistance mechanisms, which enable the optimization of biocide application, hold significant implications for greening of the fracturing process through encouraging produced water recycling. Specifically, these results suggest the necessity of optimizing biocide application at the level of individual shale plays, rather than historical experience, based upon produced water characteristics and salinity.