Investigation of the effect of sustainable magnetic treatment on the microbiological communities in drinking water

Xiaoxia Liu, Bernhard Pollner, Astrid H. Paulitsch-Fuchs, Elmar C. Fuchs*, Nigel P. Dyer, Willibald Loiskandl, Cornelia Lass-Flörl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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The drinking water scarcity is posing a threat to mankind, hence better water quality management methods are required. Magnetic water treatment, which has been reported to improve aesthetic water quality and reduce scaling problems, can be an important addition to the traditional disinfectant dependent treatment. Despite the extensive market application opportunities, the effect of magnetic fields on (microbial) drinking water communities and subsequently the biostability is still largely unexplored, although the first patent was registered already 1945. Here flow cytometry was applied to assess the effect of weak magnetic fields (≤10 G) with strong gradients (≈800 G/m) on drinking water microbial communities. Drinking water was collected from the tap and placed inside the magnetic field (treated) and 5 m away from the magnet to avoid any background interferences (control) using both a static set-up and a shaking set-up. Samples were collected during a seven-day period for flow cytometry examination. Additionally, the effects of magnetic fields on the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in autoclaved tap water were examined. Based on the fluorescent intensity of the stained nucleic acid content, the microbial cells were grouped into low nucleic acid content (LNA) and high nucleic acid content (HNA). Our results show that the LNA was dominant under nutrient limited condition while the HNA dominates when nutrient is more available. Such behavior of LNA and HNA matches well with the long discussed r/K selection model where r-strategists adapted to eutrophic conditions and K-strategists adapted to oligotrophic conditions. The applied magnetic fields selectively promote the growth of LNA under nutrient rich environment, which indicates a beneficial effect on biostability enhancement. Inhibition on an HNA representative Pseudomonas aeruginosa has also been observed. Based on our laboratory observations, we conclude that magnetic field treatment can be a sustainable method for microbial community management with great potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113638
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date12 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Drinking water
  • Flowcytometry
  • magnetic water treatment
  • microbial community
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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