Introduction

Understanding the fate of particles (individual cells as well as flocculated material) is important for describing the flux of organic matter to sediments in lakes and oceans. Coagulation can play an important role in the fate of these particles as it can result in the production of larger particles that either can serve as food for particle-feeding animals, or can settle out and be lost to deep marine sediments. Understanding the chemical and physical factors that affect adhesion and, therefore, coagulation rates has not been easy. There are a variety of particle types and sizes in aquatic systems that affect both the collision rate and the collision efficiency. Here, we consider factors affecting the success of the initial adhesion event with a focus on molecular-scale effects.

Most particles (both biotic and abiotic) in freshwater and marine systems carry a net negative charge. Conventional DLVO theory has been used to understand the

©2005 by CRC Press 339

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