Microbial-induced CaCO3 precipitation (MICP) is an innovative technique that harnesses bacterial activity for the modification of the physical properties of soils. Since stimulation of MICP by urea hydrolysis in natural soils is likely to be affected by interactions between ureolytic and non-ureolytic bacteria, we designed an experiment to examine the interactions between ureolytic and non-ureolytic bacteria and the effect of these interactions on MICP. An artificial groundwater-based rich medium was inoculated with two model species of bacteria, the ureolytic species Sporosarcina pasteurii and the non-ureolytic species Bacillus subtilis. The control treatment was inoculated with a pure culture of S. pasteurii. The following parameters were monitored during the course of the experiment: optical density, pH, the evolution of ammonium, dissolved calcium and dissolved inorganic carbon. The results showed that dissolved calcium was precipitated as CaCO3 faster in the mixed culture than in the control, despite less favorable chemical conditions in the mixed culture, i.e., lower pH and lower CO2- 3 concentration. B. subtilis exhibited a considerably higher growth rate than S. pasteurii, resulting in higher density of bacterial cells in the mixed culture. We suggest that the presence of the non-ureolytic bacterial species, B. subtilis, accelerated the MICP process, via the supply of nucleation sites in the form of non-ureolytic bacterial cells.
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