Fungal-induced water repellency in sand

Emmmanuel Salifu, Gráinne El Mountassir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Water infiltration into granular soils and the associated pore water pressure increase and reduction in shear strength can trigger landslides, instability of vertical cuts and failure of retaining walls. Water-repellent soils can reduce infiltration to maintain soil suction. Recent research has demonstrated the creation of synthetic water-repellent soils using chemical methods. This paper investigates a biological treatment for creating water-repellent sand by way of the growth of the fungus Pleurotus ostreatus. Water repellency was assessed using: (a) the water drop penetration test; (b) the molarity of ethanol drop test; and (c) the modified sessile drop method with contact angle (θ) determination by way of image analysis. Fungal-induced water repellency was found to be ‘extreme’ (θ > 110°) up to 4 weeks and ‘severe’ (θ > 105°) up to 12 weeks, even with no further supply of moisture or nutrients. A water-repellent layer was formed and maintained in saturated conditions, which is difficult to achieve using chemical methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-615
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021


  • water repellency
  • ground improvement
  • bio geotechnics
  • fungi


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