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Geomechanics and Engineering
  Volume 12, Number 5, May 2017, pages 849-862

In situ viscoelastic properties of insoluble and porous polysaccharide biopolymer dextran produced by Leuconostoc mesenteroides using particle-tracking microrheology
Min-Kyung Jeon, Tae-Hyuk Kwon, Jin-Sung Park and Jennifer H. Shin

    With growing interests in using bacterial biopolymers in geotechnical practices, identifying mechanical properties of soft gel-like biopolymers is important in predicting their efficacy in soil modification and treatment. As one of the promising candidates, dextran was found to be produced by Leuconostoc mesenteroides. The model bacteria utilize sucrose as working material and synthesize both soluble and insoluble dextran which forms a complex and inhomogeneous polymer network. However, the traditional rheometer has a limitation to capture in situ properties of inherently porous and inhomogeneous biopolymers. Therefore, we used the particle tracking microrheology to characterize the material properties of the dextran polymer. TEM images revealed a range of pore size mostly less than 20 μm, showing large pores > 2 μm and small pores within the solid matrix whose sizes are less than 1 μm. Microrheology data showed two distinct regimes in the bacterial dextran, purely viscous pore region of soluble dextran and viscoelastic region of the solid part of insoluble dextran matrix. Diffusive beads represented the soluble dextran dissolved in an aqueous phase, of which viscosity was three times higher than the growth medium viscosity. The local properties of the insoluble dextran were extracted from the results of the minimally moving beads embedded in the dextran matrix or trapped in small pores. At high frequency (ω > 0.2 Hz), the insoluble dextran showed the elastic behavior with the storage modulus of ~0.1 Pa. As frequency decreased, the insoluble dextran matrix exhibited the viscoelastic behavior with the decreasing storage modulus in the range of ~0.1–10-3 Pa and the increasing loss modulus in the range of ~10-4–1 Pa. The obtained results provide a compilation of frequency-dependent rheological or viscoelastic properties of soft gel-like porous biopolymers at the particular conditions where soil bacteria produce bacterial biopolymers in subsurface.
Key Words
    complex shear modulus; biopolymer; dextran; particle tracking micro-rheology
(1) Min-Kyung Jeon, Tae-Hyuk Kwon:
Department of Civil Engineering, Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea;
(2) Jin-Sung Park, Jennifer H. Shin:
Department of Mechanical engineering, Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 34141, Republic of Korea.

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